Businesses are tasked with encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion, but what exactly is inclusion and how can it be fostered in the workplace?

What is inclusivity?

An inclusive workplace is one that accommodates and values all employees as they are, regardless of identity, belief or circumstance. Inclusivity ensures that a diverse workforce can cooperate and thrive, without individuals feeling as if they must conform. In an inclusive workplace, views and contributions are considered and valued from all employees. Furthermore, all employees should feel as though they can be supported to achieve their full potential. So, what steps can be taken to promote inclusion in the workplace?

1.     Create an inclusion strategy

As with any business objective, inclusion requires planning, preparation and strategy to come to fruition. Top-down leadership is required to create a company-wide approach and cultural shift, whilst cultivating accountability from top to bottom and vice versa. The strategy should outline key objectives, time frames and ongoing development activities, focusing on developing a long-term culture of inclusivity.

2.     Provide dedicated training

All employees and managers should be involved in dedicated diversity and inclusion training. This can help to raise awareness and understanding across all levels of a business and help to identify where adjustments and efforts can be focused to create a more inclusive workplace. Training should start immediately for new starters to emphasise the importance of inclusion in their new place of work.

3.     Foster open and two-way communication

Two-way and open communication is an essential facet of an inclusive workplace culture because it gives employees the freedom to share their concerns, thoughts and ideas. Open discussion regarding workplace challenges and progressive actions can benefit employees, leaders and the business alike.

4.     Make reasonable adjustments

An inclusive workplace is an accessible one - therefore, reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate all employees, no matter the challenges they may face. For those with physical disabilities, appropriate measures such as dedicated parking, toilets and placement of disability signs should be implemented. Other adjustments such as changes to workplace processes or procedures may be required to ensure certain employees don't face disadvantages unlike their colleagues.

5.     Start at recruitment

Inclusivity should start with progressive recruitment. This includes battling conscious and unconscious biases in the recruitment phase. Recruitment that is built on transparency, equality of opportunity and merit will drive inclusion throughout the business. Inclusive recruitment can have a number of wider benefits for the company too, from a larger talent pool to a positive employer reputation.

Inclusivity in the workplace should be an important factor for all businesses to consider. Adopting a strategic approach will make it easier to implement and evaluate adjustments made against set objectives. Inclusion in the workplace could be the key to boosting your staff and company performance in the long term.