Ensuring Inclusivity Within the Workplace

There’s no doubt that diversity is important, especially with cities all around the world growing increasingly global and cosmopolitan. The question is, however, do these diverse employees actually feel seen and heard in the workplace?

Defining proper inclusivity

Diversity is nothing without inclusivity—but inclusive policies need to be implemented properly in order for them to actually work. Fortune recently reported that luggage company Away was put under fire after an investigative report showed that the company’s preference of messaging apps over emails and phone calls created an intimidating workplace. Relying on apps was supposed to be a move towards inclusivity, with Away’s management citing how emails often created a sense of exclusion. By switching to messaging apps for instant updates, employees then noted that they felt constantly surveyed by the management.

This case study shows how inclusivity can’t just be thrown around sparingly. Implementing inclusive policies needs to be taken in line with the underrepresented groups’ points of view. Diversity thus feeds into inclusivity, but a diverse workforce is still just the first step.

What inclusivity looks like

Any company who is serious about inclusivity needs to first re-examine their own internal policies. Our previous post entitled Diverse Workforce is a resource — Harness it notes how a diverse workforce can help you identify where the company is lacking. Workers in underrepresented groups can, for example, scout for talent within their community to ensure wider representation.

In order to make your recruitment processes more inclusive, HR will have to work closely with your paralegal team. Special Counsel lists checking regulations as one of a paralegal’s key responsibilities to ensure that policies are being followed. One such policy should be Title VII, as enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which requires that companies put measures in place that ensure diversity within the recruitment process. As there are no similar regulations on ensuring inclusivity, it is largely up to the company to put their own measures in place.

Here are some ways that your company can foster inclusivity within the workplace:

• Make an effort to connect with your employees. When planning work events, for example, make sure that the facilities are easily accessible to all and that the food menu caters to dietary restrictions.

• Encourage Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are voluntary groups that provide a safe space for like-minded employees from similar backgrounds. Managers can do their part by pushing for ERGs that are focused on similar interests, which can then help put a diverse group of employees in touch with one another.

• Hold inclusive seminars. There’s only so much a manager can do when it comes to relating with their employees. Inviting guest speakers to hold seminars, such as women business leaders on thriving in the workplace, can help underrepresented groups feel seen within your industry.

Building a truly inclusive workplace will take a lot of effort and time. That said, the payoff in employee motivation, retention, and productivity is worth the time and effort that’s required of making inclusivity a foundation of your company’s culture.

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