By Bond Collective Staff
Many business managers and owners think of workplace inclusion and diversity as one all-inclusive issue. In reality, though, they are two separate concepts that your business needs to address if it wants to achieve success.
In this article, we discuss the difference between workplace inclusion and diversity so that you can focus on each in their proper time. We also discuss the best methods that businesses of all sizes can use to build an inclusive work environment for their team.
What Is Workplace Inclusion?
Workplace inclusion encompasses the practices and attitudes of a business that ensure all team members:
Have equal access to the same resources and opportunities
Are treated fairly and respectfully
Can (and want to) contribute fully to the team’s and the business’s success
In simpler terms, workplace inclusion stresses the fact that the thoughts, ideas, and perspectives of all individuals matter and that your business considers every point of view before it makes a decision.
It’s also worth noting that workplace inclusion can be an attitude your business strives for, a set of practices you encourage, and an achievement your team enjoys once the attitude and practices are part of your standard operating procedure and company culture.
Regardless of how you use the term, workplace inclusion is all about making sure each member of your team feels valued by their teammates and the business as a whole.
Diversity Vs. Workplace Inclusion
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, many managers and owners lump diversity and workplace inclusion together as one issue.
But the two concepts are, indeed, separate, and businesses would do well to deal with them individually.
Diversity in the workplace refers to assembling a team whose individuals exhibit traits and characteristics that are unique from one another. Workplace inclusion refers to the behaviors, standards, and norms within your business that ensure that every team member feels welcome.
Because they are separate concepts, it is very possible to have one without the other.
For example, you may have assembled a diverse team, but the individuals on that team don’t feel valued or free to speak their mind.
On the other hand, you may have a very homogenous team (lacking in diversity), but the individuals on that team do feel valued and free to speak their mind.
It’s very much like hosting a party, inviting a wide variety of your friends and acquaintances (a diverse group), and then only serving pepperoni pizza.
What about the vegetarians? What about those who are lactose intolerant? What about those who can’t handle gluten? Without offering a variety of choices, your party, though sufficiently diverse, is lacking inclusion.
How To Foster Workplace Inclusion
1) Train Your Leaders
One of the first steps in fostering workplace inclusion is training the leaders within your business.
Start with the basics — what inclusion is and why it’s important — and then discuss strategies (perhaps from this list) that your business, your managers, and your teams can use to build inclusion into every corner of your workforce.
2) Organize A Workplace Inclusion Council
A workplace inclusion council is made up of eight or more leaders in upper management who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make time to discuss your business’s inclusion efforts.
When setting the agenda of these discussions, consider such issues as:
The best councils are themselves highly diverse so as to incorporate a wide variety of views and opinions.
3) Celebrate Team Members’ Differences
One easy way to promote inclusion at work is to celebrate the differences that make your team unique. Invite everyone to share their background, traditions, and experiences with the other members of the group.
Whether you choose to do so in a group setting or one-on-one, this activity goes a long way toward showing your employees that you respect them as individuals and value the way they think.
4) Listen To What Your Employees Have To Say
Employees who feel their voice isn’t heard will feel excluded from the decision-making process even if the team is highly diverse.
To avoid this pitfall and promote workplace inclusion in the process, make an effort to listen to what your employees have to say.
There are many ways to do this, the simplest and easiest to incorporate being employee surveys and focus groups that discuss inclusion issues.
Whatever method you choose, approach the activities by thinking about the type of culture you want to create within your business (one that is authentic to your brand) and how you can do so while still meeting the needs of your team.
5) Run Effective Meetings
Meetings where the same person (or a group of people) dominates the conversation are not conducive to workplace inclusion.
You can circumvent this tendency and run more effective meetings by incorporating the following suggestions:
Rotate meetings times to accommodate a distributed team
Promote active debate
Emphasize courteousness and don’t tolerate rude behavior
Include remote team members in the meeting
Distribute meeting materials well in advance
These suggestions may take some time to perfect, but your business will enjoy a higher sense of workplace inclusion when you get it right.
6) Set Goals And Measure Progress
Inclusion in the work environment is all about getting everyone working toward the same goal. For that reason, it’s imperative to share your business’s goals with your team and measure the effect everyone’s work has on those goals.
It’s also effective to set individual goals for team members and measure the progress each individual makes toward their goal.
7) Examine Workforce Policies
With inclusion in mind, revisit and reexamine the policies that govern all the employees in your business.
Are some of those policies biased toward a specific group? Could you rewrite the policy to be more inclusive while still addressing the principle behind it? Are there any new policies you could write now that inclusion is a priority?
One example of this is how your business deals with holidays. Make sure you give employees the option to take time off (without penalty) for holidays that are not mentioned in the official company calendar.
If you can work it out, can your business give equal priority to all the holidays observed by the members of your team?
8) Discuss Language
Language is a big part of what makes inclusion work. Arrange for a meeting to discuss how your team can use words to convey a more inclusive atmosphere.
For example, can your team use the word “people” instead of “guys” when referring to a mix of males and females?
If you encounter terms that your team needs to avoid, reinforce this behavior by setting up a language jar (or can or bowl or some other container). Whoever uses the taboo word or words has to drop a dollar into the jar.
When the language changes for the better, use the money you’ve collected to treat your team to lunch.
Workplace Inclusion And Your Office Space
Workplace inclusion plays an integral role in the way your team interacts with each other and with your customers and clients.
Equally important, though, is the office space in which your diverse and inclusive team operates.
Even the best team you could possibly create will see their productivity decline if they don’t have the right tools and the right work environment in which to use them.
You can ensure that your team has the best office space possible by basing your team or your entire business in a coworking space like those at Bond Collective.
Each and every one of Bond Collective’s shared working environments incorporates inspiring design elements such as natural light, open floor plans, tasteful and professional decor, and multipurpose workspaces to inspire you and your team to greatness.
And at Bond Collective, the benefits don’t stop with the workspace itself. In addition to our unique work settings, members also enjoy amenities like:
Unlimited black-and-white printing
Daily on-site cleaning
Guest reception and greeting
Private-label mail service
Concession food market
Networking and curated events
So, if you’re looking for a way to promote workplace inclusion and improve your team’s happiness and productivity, become a member of Bond Collective.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Then take advantage of our coworking spaces, dedicated desks, and private offices to suit all your team’s needs.
To get started or to learn more about the advantages of coworking spaces for digital nomads, remote workers, diverse teams, and businesses of all types and sizes, visit BondCollective.com today.