What Inclusivity in the Workplace Really Looks Like

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Inclusivity can be hard to define. But we all know an inclusive culture when we see one!

To help you pinpoint what you’re aiming for with your diversity and inclusion strategy, let’s take a closer look at exactly what an inclusive workplace looks like – and how to boost inclusivity across your organisation.

What is inclusivity in the workplace?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are often tackled as one by leadership teams and HR practitioners. But they all have their own part to play in a company culture that leaves every one of your employees feeling welcome to be who they are at work. 

Inclusivity in the workplace is when each of your employees feels like they have a voice – no matter what their personal characteristics and beliefs, what rung of the corporate ladder they sit on, or how long they’ve been at the company.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that it doesn’t matter how diverse and equitable your organisation is: unless every member of staff feels heard, it’s not inclusive. That’s why you need to think inclusion-first when it comes to your DE&I initiatives.

Traits of a truly inclusive workplace

Okay, so now we know what inclusivity is.

But what does it look like? 

Understanding what characteristics inclusive workplaces share can give us something to model our own organisations after. And this can be invaluable when it comes to crafting DE&I initiatives that work.

To help you out, here’s a look at the traits all truly inclusive organisations share:

1. Your people are happy to voice their open and honest opinions

An inclusive organisation is one where people feel comfortable voicing their opinion – even if they know it goes against the grain. If you’ve got teammates biting their tongue so they don’t ruffle any feathers, you’ve got a big inclusivity problem.

So what’s the difference between an organisation where people feel like they need to keep their head down and not cause a fuss if they want to get ahead and one where people feel like they can be themself at work without fearing any repercussions?

Psychological safety. 

If your teammates don’t feel like they can bring their open and honest selves to work, that’s going to have a huge impact on their wellbeing and engagement. And that’s going to have a knock-on effect on your employee turnover, your bottom line, and how pleasant of a place your organisation is to work.

If your people feel like they can confide in their managers and leaders, raise concerns, and suggest improvements, then you’ve got an inclusive culture – and you’re bound to reap the rewards that come with it.

A survey question that will help you take the pulse of how happy your teammates are to voice their open and honest opinions:

Inclusivity in the workplace Q1

2. Your people are happy to take part in employee surveys

Ever pushed an employee survey and got hardly any responses? That can be a big inclusivity red flag.

If your teammates don’t answer your survey questions – or they give very little away in their responses – that’s a clear sign they don’t feel like their voice is going to be heard. 

It’s a different story if your teammates are comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns in a constructive way – regardless of their personal characteristics, their background, or their role in the company. This is a surefire sign they trust that they’ll be heard and that you’ll take actions to improve any issues they flag. And that’s a key ingredient of an inclusive culture. 

A survey question that will help you take the pulse of how happy your people are to take part in employee surveys:

Inclusivity in the workplace Q2

3. Your people feel accepted, valued, and celebrated by their teammates

If your teammates don’t feel accepted, valued, and celebrated by the people they work with then they’re certainly not going to rate your organisation as very inclusive in your next employee survey.

Inclusivity is when every employee feels completely comfortable being themselves without having to worry about being looked down on, disparaged, or overlooked for promotions or pay rises.

A survey question that will help you take the pulse of whether your people feel accepted, valued, and celebrated by their teammates:

Inclusivity in the workplace Q3

4. Your people feel like you provide them with the learning and development opportunities they need to achieve their career goals

A common trap companies fall into is paying lip service to inclusion without putting any concrete initiatives into place. 

Provide your people with the learning and development opportunities they need to achieve their career goals and you’ll prove you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. 

Want an inclusive organisation? Make sure every employee has an equitable opportunity to rise through the ranks, then provide every one of them with the tools and resources they need to make the next step in their career.

If certain people feel like they’re being excluded from opportunities to progress, you’ve got an inclusivity problem – and one you need to fix, fast.

A survey question that will help you take the pulse of whether your people feel like you provide them with the learning and development opportunities they need to achieve their career goals:

Inclusivity in the workplace Q4

How to create a more inclusive culture in your workplace

It can be tempting to pull your leaders into a room to come up with inclusivity initiatives that you then announce from on high. 

But a much more inclusive way of creating a more inclusive company culture is to talk to your team and then implement ideas based on their feedback and suggestions. So here are some things to consider…

Find out what you already do well (and not so well): the first step in making your company culture more inclusive is to find out what your people think you’re currently getting right – and where you might be able to improve. You can quickly take the pulse of how inclusive your team thinks your organisation is through an employee survey (be sure to include some of the questions we’ve included throughout this article).

Don’t just listen—act on specific feedback: more often than not, the most effective DE&I initiatives come from your employees. After all, they’re the ones who know your organisation best. So, keep your eyes peeled for specific suggestions submitted by your team during your survey, as well as areas that keep cropping up as areas you could improve in.

Segment results to spot inequalities across your organisation: another important – but often overlooked – step is to dive into the data once the results of your employee survey are in. Hive’s results segmentation options make this easy. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can reveal whether your survey’s results suggest particular minority groups are having an inequitable experience. Then you can set about addressing this.

Consistently communicate survey results and action plans: one thing to note is that the fastest route to an inclusive workplace is through being totally transparent about the issues that have been flagged in your DE&I survey and what you’re doing to address them. When your people can see you’re taking their feedback seriously and taking action on it, they’re more likely to feel included – and to continue using their voice to suggest ways you can make your business even more inclusive.

All that’s left is to implement the inclusivity-boosting initiatives your team has come up with.

Inclusivity is a continuous cycle

Of course, your organisation’s inclusivity journey doesn’t end there. Once the changes you’ve implemented have had time to take effect, it’s time to take the pulse of how inclusive your organisation is again through another employee survey to see what difference they’ve made. Then you can review the results, dive into the data, implement new initiatives, and repeat. 

Stick to this simple process and in years to come your organisation will change with the times and always be as inclusive as possible, giving you the groundwork to promote diversity in the workplace

Want to know what questions to include in your next diversity and inclusion survey to get the most effective and actionable feedback? Grab your copy of the 10 key questions for your diversity and inclusion survey below.

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10 Key Questions for Your Next Diversity and Inclusion Survey

Diversity and inclusion is more than just a tick-box exercise these days; thriving organisations know exactly how important it is to create cultures where everyone feels safe and respected.

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