Creating an inclusive business is not just about ticking boxes or meeting diversity quotas.

It goes far beyond being a mere buzzword, fleeting fad, or corporate trend. Inclusion needs to be at the core of every employer’s strategy, focus and agenda.

Research consistently shows that companies with diverse teams and inclusive cultures outperform their competitors in various aspects, including financial performance, innovation, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction. Plus it gives you even more of a competitive advantage, as 2 out of 3 job candidates now seek companies that have diverse workforces.

The key thing to remember is inclusion is about more than just numbers and data; it’s about ensuring that every individual feels safe, valued, and respected in the workplace.

It means providing a seat at the table for everyone and ensuring that all voices are heard and acknowledged. It requires ongoing effort and dedication, not only because it’s good for business, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

Building an inclusive business isn’t always an easy feat, but it’s essential if you want to create an engaged workforce and thriving business. Here’s a few key steps to help you.

1. Start thinking about inclusivity from the start

Inclusion shouldn’t be an afterthought and needs to be embedded into your business values, mission and strategies from the start. You have to be intentional and understand that inclusion has to permeate every aspect of your business.

You have to live and breathe inclusivity in everything you do, from how you recruit, what your HR practices are, your policies, services or products and overall working environment. If when you look around the room, everyone looks the same, thinks the same, talks the same and comes from similar backgrounds, it’s probably not an inclusive workplace.

By considering inclusivity at every stage, you can lay a solid foundation that sets the tone for the entire business!

2. Understand and acknowledge bias

Unfortunately bias and discrimination are still prevalent in workplaces. Despite progress being made, bias continues to be an issue for many businesses – and there’s plenty of statistics to prove it.

  • 42% of women claim that they have faced some type of gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • Only 29% of adults with a disability in the UK are employed, compared to 82% of adults without a disability.
  • One in five employees in the UK has been subject to negative comments or conduct from colleagues for being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

With so many examples of discrimination still going on, it’s essential for employers to be tackling the issue head on and reducing the impact on their people.

The first step to addressing bias is understanding where it comes from. Bias is defined as making judgments or decisions based on our own assumptions, prior experience or interpretations. It can be conscious or unconscious, meaning individuals may not even be aware of their biases.

To be able to recognise, acknowledge, and most importantly, eliminate bias, you need to be providing training and education to your people. Encourage regular self-reflection and create a culture of awareness and accountability that empowers individuals to challenge their own (and other people’s) biases.

3. Ensure fair hiring practices

Promoting inclusivity begins with fair hiring practices. This involves reviewing the language you use in job adverts to rethinking the individual that the business visualises within certain roles.

If you don’t already, make sure to standardise your interview process. Have all applicants answer the same questions and complete the same assessments so you can compare skills fairly – and free of any bias you may unintentionally hold. You can also use blind CV reviews and use software to remove any identifying information (like names or photographs) from the documentation before the initial screening.

4. Create inclusive policies

Developing inclusive policies is essential for promoting diversity, fostering a sense of belonging, and adapting to the evolving needs of your workforce. However, not only do you need to be implementing new policies that address the unique needs and challenges faced by your people, you also need to be regularly reviewing your existing policies.

Even over just the last few years there has been a huge shift in the way businesses work. Everything from hybrid and remote working to new legislation and changing employee expectations. Without regular review, your policies are most likely outdated and irrelevant. Don’t wait until an emergency to update them – by then it will probably be too late!

You also need to look closely at the wording and language used within your policies. Language plays a powerful role in shaping workplace culture and allowing people to feel safe to express their true selves.Take into account gender identity and the use of inclusive pronouns that validate the diverse identities of your employees. By using inclusive language, you promote respect, dignity, and a sense of belonging for all employees.

Remember, your policies should be living documents that reflect the values and principles of your business. Regular evaluation and adaptation are key to ensure that your policies remain inclusive, supportive, and aligned with the diverse needs of your employees!

5. Focus on psychological safety

Psychological safety is the foundation of an inclusive workplace. Employees need to feel safe to speak up, share ideas, and take risks without fear of judgment, conflict or punishment. They need to feel included and safe in the knowledge that others on the team will not reject them on the basis of their differences. Those differences can include ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, social background, ability, or any other of the long list of ways in which people are different.

Professor Amy C. Edmondson who coined the phrase, says that leaders must ask themselves four questions to measure psychological safety in their workplace:

  1. To what degree is it permissible to make mistakes?
  2. To what degree can difficult or sensitive topics be discussed?
  3. How much are people willing to help each other?
  4. To what degree can people be themselves and are accepted for this?

If your company scores positively in all four of these areas, well done! It’s likely you’re doing all the right things to promote a psychologically safe workplace. If not, it’s time to make some changes!

Become an Evolved Manager

In the Evolved Manager Free Resource hub there’s a range of webinars and articles to help you create a diverse and inclusive workplace where everybody feels safe, valued and heard.

Sign up to the Evolved Manager Free Resources Hub here.

You can also join The Evolved Manager Community here – my free group for People Managers and HR to connect, share their values, experiences and support each other’s development.

Registered Address

2 Bradshaw Close, Standish, Wigan, Lancashire, United Kingdom, WN6 0RG

Follow Us

Contact Us