Building a diverse workforce is a good start to creating a positive workplace culture, but adopting the best inclusive workplace practices is the cherry on top. By doing this, you can make sure that each employee is seen, recognized, and included. Explore our recommended inclusive workplace practices below.
1. Raise awareness of diversity and inclusion through training
The best inclusive workplace practice to start with is to train your employees on diversity and inclusion. An inclusive culture is fostered in the everyday interactions of your employees, so it’s important that each individual understands the value of inclusivity and knows how to practice it in the workplace. Even if you’ve successfully built a diverse workforce, if your employees are lost on inclusivity, then some employees, especially those from minorities, may still feel excluded—or worse, discriminated against.
So, the real work really starts with educating everyone about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. One way to improve inclusion in the workplace is to provide gender inclusivity training courses to employees. As part of this training, it’s also important to highlight your own organization’s inclusion policies to avoid any form of discrimination. By promoting inclusive practices through training, your employees will become more mindful and considerate of their diverse backgrounds, especially when communicating with or interacting with their peers. This also serves as a way to make everyone feel safe and welcome in the workplace.
In EdApp’s free course library, you’ll find Diversity and Inclusion and many other DEI training courses to help your employees embrace their differences, eliminate bias, and cultivate an inclusive culture. The content here is divided into mini-lessons, so your employees can understand them much better and complete them in no time.
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2. Communicate using inclusive language
Language is so powerful that it can build connections or create barriers depending on how you use it, whether intentional or unintentional. That’s why, in fostering a sense of belonging among a diverse workforce, it’s essential to communicate with your employees using inclusive language. The first step in applying inclusive language in the workplace is recognizing that your employees have various identities, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, and many other different aspects and backgrounds. So, you should become more intentional with the words or phrases you use and opt for neutral language. This means that you should avoid terms, slang, and expressions that leave out certain groups of people, especially those historically marginalized. It also entails breaking down assumptions about their backgrounds or certain preferences.
For instance, instead of using “husband” or “wife,” you should use “spouse” or “partner” to avoid any heteronormative assumption. Also, not all people with partners are married, so the latter term recognizes the diversity of marital status in your workplace.
3. Recognize the importance of using proper pronouns
Similar to using inclusive language, it’s also equally important to use gender-neutral language. Recognizing the preferred pronouns of your employees is one of the best inclusive workplace practices. You can advocate this by encouraging your employees to include it in their email signatures, which helps create a sense of safety and belonging for any identity, especially genderqueer and nonbinary team members. You can even go beyond that by adding your employees’ preferred pronouns to your org charts, letting them know that it is acknowledged across the company.
Help your employees reduce prejudice and stereotypes based on gender or gender identity through gender inclusivity training courses. By including this topic in your employee training, they will have a better grasp of the diverse identities of people beyond the gender assigned at birth.
4. Promote inclusive collaboration
Having a diverse workforce gives you an opportunity to take advantage of their varying ideas and perspectives. You can do this by promoting inclusive collaboration where each employee, regardless of any aspect of their identity, is welcome to have a seat at the table and contribute to the conversation. This is another inclusive workplace practice to encourage open communication as well as a respectful exchange of ideas without discrimination in the workplace. Inclusive collaboration helps build an atmosphere or culture where each employee can feel confident of the value they can contribute to the company’s success.
5. Gather and listen to employee feedback
You can adopt all the best inclusive workplace practices you want, but they are nothing if they don’t resonate with your employees. Similarly, you’ll never know how your employees really feel towards the workplace culture if they won’t have the opportunity to voice their opinions. So, you should make sure that your employees are heard by gathering and listening to their feedback on your workplace inclusivity efforts—whether they feel it all or not. You can practice this by conducting employee pulse surveys, encouraging honest 1:1 sessions with managers, and creating platforms for anonymous feedback.
In EdApp, courses are editable, so you can add a survey at the end of a diversity and inclusion course. Here, you can either ask an open-ended question about how your employees feel about inclusivity at work. Or, you can even give them multiple choices so you can gather straightforward feedback. Thanks to EdApp’s creator tool, you can encourage your employees to give their feedback in fun ways through its variety of survey templates.
6. Form an inclusion council
In order to build an inclusive workplace, especially in large organizations, you need to form an inclusion council. It’s a dedicated team that consists of managers and employees focusing on implementing and monitoring policies and programs for inclusivity in the workplace. Ideally, they are a diverse group representing different backgrounds and identities, and if possible, there should be members with relatively high positions. This is to ensure that the council has the power to immediately take action, or at least be able to quickly relay issues to the c-suite. This inclusion council should be able to meet at least quarterly to review employee feedback, discuss challenges, and plan strategies to better incorporate inclusion in the workplace.
7. Celebrate your diversity in the workplace
Simply building a diverse workforce throughout your organization is not enough. It’s important they are acknowledged and celebrated. With your employees’ different cultures, religions, and traditions, you should consider including, or at least recognizing, them in your company holiday calendar. Making the effort to acknowledge their own holidays or unique traditions will make them feel more accepted and allow them to show their authentic selves. Beyond celebrating diverse holidays, you go above and beyond by considering the diverse preferences and dietary restrictions of your employees, whether due to their culture or health reasons, in the meal planning in your company. The sky’s the limit in celebrating workplace diversity. All you need to keep in mind is to be respectful and mindful of your approach to make it genuine.
8. Dedicate platforms for inclusive, non-work conversations
Another inclusive workplace practice that you shouldn’t underestimate is dedicating platforms for inclusive, non-work conversations. Casual conversations are the best way for your employees to get to know each other on a personal level, especially with regard to their unique backgrounds. In the workplace, it can be done through simple, casual events like team lunches or happy hours. Or, it can also be practiced by allowing your employees to create different Slack channels for their specific interests, backgrounds, cultures, and so much more. This enables your employees to freely express themselves and resonate with like-minded or similar peers. By fostering this kind of open culture, no one would feel odd. They can be as unique as they can be and still have a place.
9. Integrate diversity and inclusion into your talent hunting strategy
Being truly inclusive begins with your talent hunting process and the types of people you hire. You should be able to evaluate your hiring approach and recognize your own unconscious bias. From there, you can restructure your hiring process into a more objective one. Inclusive language should also be applied early on in writing job descriptions. This is to make it accessible to diverse candidates and to avoid making it seem that a role is being assumed for a specific group of people only. The design of these job postings is also crucial as they serve as visual communication. For instance, if you’re looking for candidates for a tech role and your job posting assumes a male audience, it can be discouraging to female candidates who may be qualified for the role. Another thing you should be mindful of is making sure that the job description is realistic. There are job descriptions that sound too unattainable, which hinders candidates with so much potential to excel in the line of work from applying. Be open and welcoming while still remaining objective in assessing their qualifications for the role.
Thankfully, you can refresh your knowledge on the best inclusive workplace practices for the talent hunting process with EdApp’s course on Interviewing Talent for Startups. Aside from discussing techniques for interviewing candidates, this human resources course also highlights the different cognitive and cultural biases you should avoid.
10. Invest in inclusive spaces in the workplace
If you have a large organization with a diverse group of employees, you should consider investing in making inclusive spaces in your workplace. Certain groups of people have specific needs in the workplace, such as prayer rooms for different religions, lactation rooms for new moms, open spaces for people with disabilities, isolation rooms for easily distracted people, and the list goes on. Investing in these spaces shows that your people and their needs are your top priority, even in your office plan. It also serves as a way to create a concrete and inclusive work environment where your people can feel comfortable and safe. This way, your employees will be more engaged and motivated, enabling them to thrive better at work.