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Four tips for creating a safe and inclusive workplace

Every employee must feel welcome, safe and confident with their self-defined identities. Ryan Ayers offers suggestions and resources to help organisations achieve this

Diversity and Inclusion

It’s essential that today’s business leaders create safe and inclusive workplaces where workers feel comfortable and welcomed. This type of environment increases worker satisfaction and, ultimately, organisational outcomes.

The path toward diversity and inclusion is challenging, however. Accordingly, effective leaders must guide staff members in learning to accept one another.

Contemporary executives recognise that diversity and inclusion are more than buzzwords. It’s not enough to simply hire people from different backgrounds. All staff members must also feel welcome, safe and confident with their self-defined identities.

With this sentiment in mind, the following sections offer four tips to aid organisational leaders in creating a safe and inclusive workplace.

Tip 1: Make inclusion and diversity a priority

There’s no place or time when discrimination is acceptable. In the workplace, leaders must address bias and inclusion problems immediately.

Duly, organisational leaders must confront discrimination head on and with steadfast resolve. When doing so, it’s important to clarify that biased and discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable in the workplace.

Furthermore, leaders must make a concerted and public effort to increase awareness that diversity and inclusion is a corporate priority. In one form or another, organisational leadership should expose staff members to messages to keep a corporate culture of inclusion at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

One way to do this is to include diversity and inclusion initiatives as part of professional development. By ingraining these values into all corporate processes, executives can ensure that diversity and inclusion are eternal parts of organisational culture.

Tip 2: Support all employees culturally and professionally

Most often, many organisations only recognise mainstream celebrations, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving Day. Enterprise leaders can bolster diversity and inclusion by celebrating the traditions and beliefs of all cultures.

Promoting cultural inclusion requires a true understanding of all workers’ backgrounds. This could include providing paid time off so that staff members can have elaborate the family holidays that are relevant to their ethnicity.

Organisational leaders must also promote career development for staff members of all backgrounds. All workers should have the same access to professional opportunities.

Leaders can foster this environment by equally encouraging all qualified staff members to pursue corporate training and opportunities for advancement. In action, this could be as simple as praising workers for good performance or establishing written, actionable goals to help staff members advance their career.

Tip 3: Uphold a safe work environment for all staff members

Inclusive workplace safety policy encompasses more than establishing basic guidelines. Accordingly, effective executive leaders ensure that the workplace is safe for all. This encompasses establishing clearly defined expectations and highlights the fact that all groups are entitled to a safe and comfortable work environment regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality or orientation.

Inclusive environment design is one way to promote a safe work space where workers are comfortable and familiar with each other. For instance, organisational leaders can design a dining area that encourages workers to share meals together. This kind of setting leads to interesting conversations and creates a safe place for staff members to share their thoughts.

Larger organisations may need to do more to create a unified workforce. For instance, employee networks are an effective way to create a sense of community while enabling staff members to share their ideas.

Tip 4: Make diversity and inclusion a part of corporate culture

A corporate culture of diversity and inclusion must start with top-level management. Organisational founders and executives must have a real desire to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Developing diversity and inclusion requires a two-pronged approach – internal and external development. A sincere desire to promote inclusion will reveal itself in enterprise practices, such as hiring and career advancement. Also, it’s important to hire job candidates who believe in and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion.

It’s human nature for people to hire others that make them feel comfortable. Accordingly, it’s essential that human resources personnel and hiring managers are culturally competent and sensitive.

Organisational leadership sets the tone for inclusion and diversity. By taking an honest look at recruiting and inclusion policies, corporate heads can build bridges that foster enduring fairness and inclusion in the workplace.

 

Ryan Ayers

Published 6 February 2019. Ryan Ayers (pictured) is a business consultant and technology researcher

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