Six Steps to Building an Inclusive Workplace

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), March 19, 2018

This article offers six practical strategies for creating an inclusive environment that goes beyond merely hiring a diverse workforce that includes a range of ages, ethnicities, religions and worldviews. They include:

  • Educating leadership on the benefits of inclusion, as it’s a company’s executives and managers—those who interact directly with employees—who will be instrumental to the success of diversity and inclusion programs.
  • Forming a council comprising a dedicated group of eight to 12 influential leaders who are one or two levels below the CEO. (Ideally, councils should be involved in goal setting around hiring, retaining, and advancing a diverse workforce and in addressing any employee engagement problems among underrepresented employee groups.)
  • Showing employees that you respect them by celebrating their differences. Invite employees to share their backgrounds and traditions in the workplace through creative events and programs.
  • Listening to employees by understanding their experiences (Use surveys and focus groups and conduct comprehensive assessments of your organization’s demographics and people-oriented processes to develop specific strategies to promote inclusiveness.)
  • Hold more effective meetings. Promote active debate and be courteous. If one colleague interrupts another, call attention to it to underscore the importance of letting everyone be heard.
  • Communicate goals and measure progress. Conduct a full audit of your people processes—from recruiting and hiring to developing and retaining employees. Couple the data with engagement and other workforce survey data to gain a full measure of your climate. Then, establish and clearly communicate specific, measurable, and time-bound goals as you would with any other strategic aim.

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