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#UnitedForInclusion: How to build an inclusive working culture

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This week marks National Inclusion Week, a period which aims to celebrate inclusion in all its forms – whether in business, in wider society or across the globe. This year’s theme, #UnitedForInclusion, explores how organisations of all shapes and sizes can work hard to build not only a diverse, but inclusive workplace as well as celebrating those who trailblaze as role models for the rest of the business world to look up to.


What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion (D&I)?

While the two sit together, they are very different practices – and it’s where many businesses can fall in their D&I efforts. Diversity is the practice of creating a workforce that is reflective of our society and the myriad of genders, races, sexualities, and abilities within it. And while an incredibly important step for companies to take, the hard work truly starts with its partner – inclusion.

Inclusion takes diversity one step further, if a business is inclusive, it works hard not only to hire and retain a wide range of voices, perspectives and personalities, but creates a culture where every person can feel safe and thrive.


Why is inclusion important?

There’s a huge list of benefits to ensuring an inclusive workforce, both for your team and for your bottom line, but here are a few key examples.

  • According to McKinsey, gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to outperform their homogenous counterparts, and this number jumps up to 35 per cent for those companies who are ethnically diverse.

  • Organisations that are inclusive are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, according to Deloitte.

  • When leaders are inclusive, individual employee feelings of fairness, respect, value, psychological safety, and inspiration increase by 70 per cent.

  • Team collaboration increases by 29 per cent, and team performance increases by 17 per cent.


However, despite the multiple benefits, nine out of 10 executives still report challenges executing their D&I strategies – especially with the multitude of hurdles that have presented themselves as a result of the pandemic. Consequently, only one in six diverse employees feels more supported post-COVID - a worrying statistic.

So, what can companies do to ensure they place inclusion at the forefront of their agenda moving forward?


Start with inclusive hiring

Inclusion starts well before anyone even enters the door of your business. When writing job adverts, ensure language is neutral to avoid gender bias – ‘gurus’ is a classic example to avoid - and keep your descriptions free from unnecessary jargon or acronyms to avoid confusion.

Moving on from this, when you have found your shortlist, ensure that the interview process is fair. One way to do this is create a skills-based interview which assesses individuals on their ability to do the role rather than the answers they give to qualitative questions. This way of interviewing will help put all candidates on a levelled playing field.

Lastly, always ask candidates whether they require any adjustments during the interview to ensure equality is met in the process for all people involved.


Train your staff continuously

D&I training is a crucial first step for businesses to take when looking to implement an inclusive culture. It begins to educate teams on the importance of diversity and inclusion, the legal ramifications of not embracing D&I, as well as offering a safe space to ask questions.

But this can’t be a one-stop-shop – D&I training is only the first step on the ladder to inclusion. Learning, education, and acceptance must be an ongoing conversation throughout the lifecycle of any business. Keep conversations going, offer top-up sessions and ensure D&I is always at the forefront of your team’s mind.


Begin a D&I council

Driving meaningful change must come from everyone within the business for it to fully work. If there is a member, of a few members of the team, who feel passionately about D&I alongside your senior leaders, this could be a brilliant way to drive the message throughout the company.

These individuals can also work with you to ensure policies and procedures are always inclusive and that everyone’s voices are heard equally.


Implement a zero-tolerance policy

It’s crucial that as a business, the safety and security of all employees remains at the top of your agenda. To reach true inclusivity, anyone and everyone should be able to show up to work without fear of being discriminated against or abused.

Having a zero-tolerance policy in place assures team members that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and that all actions have serious consequences. Build your business on a platform that you are proud of and want to be part of, and your employees will follow suit.


You find out more about National Inclusion week here:​


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