Inclusive workplaces take an employee-eyed-view of the world.

We are not all the same, so why should we expect our people to adhere to a rigid 9 to 5, Monday to Friday working pattern, embrace the open plan office or enthuse about the weekly team social?

In its basic terms, “inclusivity” means the inclusion of different groups of individuals. But it is the word “different” that is key here. Inclusivity is an appreciation of difference and diversity, and a diverse and inclusive workplace ensures organisations thrive.

So how do we create an inclusive workplace?

Change your mind set

An inclusive workplace starts with the recruitment process. A cookie-cutter approach to recruiting not only negates opportunities for all, it risks sterility and reduces opportunities for growth. And a lack of diversity among candidates simply isn’t a viable excuse.

Nonetheless, it’s also important to bear in mind that diversity in the workplace is not about hitting targets for hiring under-represented groups. It goes beyond gender, race, age, religion etc and seeing people as falling into categories based on characteristics. Read the Intersectionality 101 blog here.

Start seeing your people as just that: people

A diverse and inclusive workplace reflects a company culture where everyone is seen and appreciated as an individual. Your people are shaped by multiple influences and factors, they bring different outlooks, opinions and experiences to the table and they don’t all work and perform in the same way.

Is your workplace conducive to ensure your people perform to their best? Is the expectation that peak performance for employees takes place between the hours of 9 and 5? Or do you offer flexibility for early birds and night owls?

What about providing a distraction-free escape from the open plan office environment – whether that takes the form of a separate office space or opportunities for working from home?

Rigidity can be alienating

An expectation to perform in a prescribed way/setting/time frame can leave those who do not operate as expected feeling demotivated and questioning their worth. If you have an employee in your organisation who is struggling to fulfil their role, have you looked at the environment in which their required to perform?

Have you identified a drop in productivity among individuals following an office move, a company restructure, implementing a cost-saving measure, or the introduction of new policies and procedures? Did you consult your people before making these changes?

Unity in individualism

As well as an appreciation of individualism, your workplace culture needs to unite all of these individuals in working towards achieving a common goal.

This sounds tricky, I know and I never said any of this was easy, but a great place to start is to identify that each individual has a different offering for your organisation. And it is this insight that is so valuable in getting the best out of your people.

They have different skills, strengths and weaknesses, so should they all be targeted in the same way? How are you determining the success of the team/department/company? Is it by the end result – revenue generated or KPIs met – or by the valued contribution of each colleague working at their very best in order to achieve the end result?

Maximise your organisation’s potential through inclusivity

There are great gains to be made from an inclusive workplace. Not only is an inclusive environment key to employee wellbeing and in turn staff retention, a great deal of research suggests that a diverse workplace is a more creative workplace. And this shouldn’t be underestimated in ensuring organisations stay ahead in a world that is constantly changing.

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