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4 Ways to Help Build an Inclusive Work Environment

What is inclusion in the workplace? Inclusion is defined as a proactive approach in the recruiting and engaging of people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and demographic identities. Nonprofit leaders see the importance of building a more inclusive workplace as it helps employees feel more comfortable, valued, and productive. Creating a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive, encourages employees to be innovative while also cultivating a culture of accountability.

Having a workplace with a diverse mixture of people who all feel valued within a unified, positive culture can be essential to unlocking an organization’s full potential. Employees have the ability to flourish in a diverse workplace and organizations can benefit from new ideas, new skill sets and employee engagement.

Here’s four strategies to help create and cultivate an inclusive working environment:

1) Applaud Differences Amongst Your Employees: An important way to show employees that you embrace and respect their backgrounds and traditions is to encourage inclusiveness in the workplace. For example, offering a separate space or private room for prayer or meditation. Employees with certain religious backgrounds can use this space to practice daily religious rituals without being disturbed.

2) Train & Support Leadership Team: Leaders play an essential role is encouraging inclusion strategies and efforts. Offering mandatory training and discussion groups to your leadership team is vital as they are acting role models to your employees. These types of trainings can help leaders learn how to better manage a diverse team. Also, it can help leaders become aware of certain biases, teach them how to be an active listener and to actively encourage different viewpoints.

3) Take Time to Listen to Your Employees: To have a better understanding of the needs and wants of your employees, conducting a survey can help highlight where the inclusion and engagement issues currently exist. Taking the time to complete an assessment of an organization’s current demographics and processes can be a great starting point to learn where to apply new strategies that promote inclusiveness.  

4) Create a Productive Meeting Protocol: Meetings should be designed to allow everyone in the meeting to feel comfortable to share ideas and contribute feedback. Consider distributing meeting materials in advance and listing out questions and topics to be discussed during the meeting. For workers in different time zones, consider rotating meeting times. This shows consideration to those employees having to start their workday earlier or later in order to attend the meeting.  

While introducing these strategies may vary from business to business, the most important thing is that every employee is on the path towards a more inclusive work environment. The potential for positive outcomes when striving for inclusion can be significant, often resulting in new ideas, fresh perspectives and helping employees perform at a higher level.

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