So How Can You Create An Inclusive Culture At Your Workplace? Let’s first understand what exactly an inclusive culture of an organization means – inclusive does not mean that you have people of all genders, sexual orientation or races in your organisation; it means that you have an organisation that allows everyone to have an opportunity to do their best work, irrespective of their designation, age or experience. If your work place is inclusive, every single team member will feel like they are a part of the system and the process – they will feel that every time they voice their opinion it is heard and they are allowed to take risks. This leads to a greater level of that all important feeling of ownership of success, and that feeling leads to the success of the organisation too.
Now, if you feel that your organisation needs to be a little more inclusive, here are the things that you can do:
- Start by understanding the difference and relationship between inclusion and diversity, because even though these two terms seem similar, there are some inherent differences. For instance, diversity is a fact; it exists in factors such as gender, age, experience, educational qualifications and so on. However, inclusion is by choice – an organisation and the people working in it have to want it. Diversity is like a stepping stone towards inclusion and creating a better internal culture, because when there are people from various cultures and viewpoints, there will be more that can be brought to the table – more ideas, more concepts and eventually more solutions. Just having a diversity in your team will not be enough – you need to make sure that each member of the team feels utilised, visible, audible and of course properly considered.
- Both diversity and inclusion have to be recognised as processes, not programs that can be timed or setup for a few weeks or months. One of the constant mistakes that a lot of people make is that they think of both of these as a one-time thing; a training event or something you would do on a team meet. Diversity and inclusion needs to be on-going and continuous and both need to be embedded into the very ethos of the organisation. Both need to be in tandem with the recruitment of new people, their training and most importantly, their retention. Diversity and inclusion are more related to the human aspect and can, at no point, be treated as a pointer in some manual.
- Before you can start inculcating the inclusive nature in your entire team, it is imperative that you educate the leaders first and this is something that will have to go beyond regular organizational culture training. When the top rung is in tandem with what needs to be done, it is bound to filter down to the rest of the team as well. The top management needs to undergo proper training to understand the importance of inclusion and how it can be inculcated in the day to day work life and space. Inclusion related mistakes can happen in the simplest of things – choosing based on gender rather than merit, choosing experience over a better idea. In addition, the HR also needs to be in on the entire process, because they are the ones who will have to decide on a regular basis where there are problems and how they need to be handled and/or tweaked.
- When you are laying out the steps in creating organizational culture, you need to ensure that you are also adding steps to adopt inclusive leadership behaviour. The top management needs to empower the team members, so that they are able to grow at their own pace, find solutions to a variety of problems and not only develop new skills but also come up with fresh and innovative ideas. Every member of the team should be given the courage to stand up to the solutions or ideas they are providing and the higher ups should have the humility to accept that they could be wrong or someone junior could come up with a better idea.
- While you need to listen very carefully to your employees, you also need to communicate the goals that you expect your employees to reach. If the need arises, you can conduct a thorough assessment of the current business culture, and then bring about the necessary changes. You need to make sure that every employee of yours, starting from the interns and freshers feel comfortable and are able to make their points. In order for the company to grow, the team members need to have the chance to grow and that will happen only when they are able to express their ideas and solutions, without the fear of getting into trouble or any retribution. However, this does not mean that as an employer, you do not communicate the goals to your team members – at the end of the day, it is about meeting the numbers and bringing in the profits.
- And last but not the least, you need to celebrate the differences that the employees have and bring to the table. It could be doing something as simple as having a small prayer room or meditation room for employees who need the space to do the same during a work day. Or it could be a room, where new mothers or expectant mothers could get in a few minutes of rest. Having a room where employees can gather to have their coffee or lunch will help, because it will allow them a chance to converse with each other. Potluck lunches, staff picnics, weekend getaway and ethnic celebrations for the entire team are all methods to by which you can celebrate inclusivity.
References for How Can You Create An Inclusive Culture At Your Workplace?