It’s no secret that inclusive work environments are key to success. Surrounding yourself with people from different backgrounds and different cultures will open your mind to new ideas and perspectives. In the workplace, this is likely to spark innovation and increase creativity, resulting in a positive environment where everyone feels valued.
Before we get started, it’s important to remember that every organisation is at a different stage of its equality, diversity and inclusion journey- it’s a marathon, not a sprint. However, we all have a part to play and there are steps you can take to make sure you are doing your part as an individual in creating an inclusive environment.
EDUCATE YOURSELF & OTHERS
In the words of Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
When it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion, learning is constantly evolving. It’s a journey with no end date. From learning about different protected characteristics such as race and disability to understanding our unconscious bias and learning to be an ally. The amount of information available to us is huge.
Many organisations build inclusivity training into their development programme, if this is something you’re wanting to explore yourself, or within your organisation there are thousands of useful resources you can access through a quick Google search. Inclusive Employers is a fantastic starting point, as they are an organisation that offers a wealth of free resources covering diversity and inclusion.
When you learn about different topics, share what you take away with your colleagues. Knowledge is power and sharing this with others will help broaden their understanding.
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
It’s important to think about language before you address a person or a group. It can be easy to use gendered language such as ‘ladies’, ‘lads’, ‘guys’, etc. Although you may mean no harm it is helpful to consider how this could be interpreted. Without realising, you could be excluding individuals or making them feel uncomfortable.
It’s always a good idea to ask someone which pronouns they prefer so that you can address them correctly. We can encourage individuals to feel comfortable to share by letting others know what our own pronouns are.
So, next time you compose an email, start a meeting or simply greet someone in your office – take a moment to consider the language you use!
SPEAK UP & CELEBRATE DIFFERENCES
We mentioned unconscious bias earlier, this is a natural process that happens to us all. However, it can make us jump to conclusions and make unfair decisions. A lack of awareness and understanding can sometimes lead to people being prejudiced.
If you witness something in the workplace that makes you or others feel uncomfortable, like a colleague displaying bias or hearing someone making a judgement based on an individual’s protected characteristics – you must challenge this. They may not know they are doing this, so be kind, explain what you saw and work with them to help change it.
By educating people on why their behaviour is inappropriate, you can help bring about positive change and improve workplace culture for everyone.
Inclusion and diversity should be championed in the workplace, and it starts with getting to know more about the people around you. Take some time to better understand the backgrounds of your co-workers and listen to their stories.
By being open-minded and engaging in conversations with your colleagues, you’re more likely to find out that you have many common interests, rather than differences.
Another way to celebrate diversity is by taking part in events that champion change, like National Inclusion Week 2022! Join in the conversation by using the hashtag #ThePowerOfNow.