Many organizations have diversity policies. Some even have annual trainings, which educate staff about harassment and its consequences. However, having an inclusive workplace is more than policies and an annual training. Rather it is the ability to embrace and cultivate the unique and diverse backgrounds, perspectives, knowledge base, skills and abilities of employees to accomplish organizational goals.
Organizations can create an inclusive workplace by first asking for staff to provide feedback. You want 360 degrees of feedback, meaning you want to hear from every level of employee about every level of the organization. Although, this maybe a time consuming process, it will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization as well as provide an opportunity for you to address staff’s concerns. This type of survey not only identifies any policies at a larger organizational level that could be impeding on inclusiveness, but also any informal practices at the water cooler level. Thus creating an environment of trust, appreciation, and support. All of which have been shown to increase employee productivity and job satisfaction.
Second, you want to make diversity and inclusiveness apart of your company’s brand. Meaning organizations should have diverse staff from all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, perspectives, and socioeconomic statuses. Diverse workplaces attract diverse customers and future employees. Moreover, having a diverse workplace encourages open communication and the sharing of ideas.
Thirdly, employers should look beyond the typical annual diversity training and dig deeper. Additional training ideas include: trainings on unconscious bias, the influence of culture on the workplace, handling conflict in the workplace, styles of communication, and etc. These trainings provide staff with the opportunity to improve their ability to work in teams, communicate and create work products. In addition, learning does not always have to take place in a classroom or in a formal setting. Organizations can also provide opportunities for staff to learn informally about each other. For instance, acknowledge different cultural holidays, have events where you share food and music with each other. An example is having an international potluck at work. Creating a space where people feel safe to be their authentic selves is most important in creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace.