Five practical tips for people leaders to make the workplace more inclusive
TIP 1: Raise awareness of Gender Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) and why it matters
The journey starts by ensuring everyone understands what GDI is – we can’t change what we are not aware of.
For some, the subject is intuitive but for others it needs some explanation, simple definitions and clear examples.
Share why it matters
Research shows that one of the biggest challenges to building an inclusive workplace is that many people don’t really understand the benefits.
TIP 2: Value diversity
Intentionally seek out diverse people and points of view
All of us like to believe that we are inclusive people who really value diversity but when we step back and take an honest look at ourselves, we may find that our actions and behaviour do not always match our intent.
Visibly demonstrate you value diversity
A key success factor for inclusion is modelling the right behaviour to our team members.
Here are some suggested activities – pick one or two to try and set a reminder in your calendar to ensure you do not forget:
Make it clear you will hold yourself and your teams accountable for behaving in an inclusive way. Be open and give your team permission to provide you with feedback when you may have inadvertently behaved in a non-inclusive manner. Contract with them to also give them the same feedback. Everyone one on the team is included equally
TIP 3: Ensure fair treatment and equal access to opportunities for all
Be aware of the diverse needs and styles of others and make account for them
Being inclusive does not mean that we necessarily treat everyone exactly the same, as demonstrated in the image below.
Flexible, remote and agile working
Offering different kinds of flexible working creates a more inclusive environment.
TIP 4: Counteract conscious and unconscious bias
Recognize bias and the role it plays
Bias is a prejudice in favour of or against a person or a group when compared with another person or group, usually in a way that’s considered to be unfair.
Addressing the impact of bias on diversity & inclusion
Unconscious bias can result in unfair discrimination in many aspects of the workplace – from hiring decisions to performance evaluation, promotions and even how work gets allocated within a team.
TIP 5: Build psychological safety
Make it safe for your team to have conflicting points of views and to make mistakes
Psychological Safety is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.
How is this linked to Diversity and Inclusion? The perception of risk and need to impression manage is higher for individuals from different diversity dimensions because they are likely to bring new and different perspectives. If we want to reap the benefits of greater diversity of thought, we need to create team environments where everyone is comfortable expressing their unique point of view. Without this we rob ourselves, our team and our organisation of the unique contribution that diverse talent can bring.
We can’t learn and grow unless we feel comfortable asking questions, seeking help, expressing concerns, experimenting with unproven actions, or seeking feedback. When employees join a new team or workplace, they observe how their manager and peers react and quickly assess the interpersonal risk associated with a given behaviour. So, an action that might be unthinkable in one team, will be readily taken in another.