How to foster an inclusive and diverse environment at work

Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, however, often many assume that one automatically implies the other, but that’s not actually the case… Diversity does not necessarily imply inclusion, and that’s why both should be acknowledged as two different concepts in order to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

So, what is a diverse and inclusive workplace?

Diversity in the workplaces can be defined as the different traits and characteristics that distinguish employees. This can include age, gender, religion, culture, disability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. On the other hand, an inclusive workplace is one where employees feel connected, have a sense of belonging, feel psychologically safe, and feel valued for their contributions within the workplace. This is usually underpinned by the company culture which fosters respect, fairness, and acceptance of all in the workplace.

Benefits of a culturally diverse and inclusive workplace

Culturally diverse and inclusive workplaces are a valuable commodity. When workplaces are diverse and have a working environment with employees from a variety of backgrounds, they bring different skill sets and experience, which can increase innovation and creativity. Research suggests that diversity and inclusion is critical to fostering effective and high performing teams. A workplace that is both diverse and inclusive can source talent and retain valuable staff which is not limited to discrimination or racial bias.

According to the Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022, inclusive teams are more likely to be innovative, satisfied with their work, and work extra hard. Inclusive teams are also less likely to perceive work as having a negative impact on their wellbeing and mental health, and are less likely to experiences discrimination and/ or harassment.

How can workplaces foster an environment which is diverse and inclusive?

1. Policies and practices

Setting clear workplace policies and practices help to promote diversity, equality, and inclusive workplaces. These policies aim to combat discrimination through providing equal opportunities in areas such as recruitment, pay and promotion. Workplace polices can help to foster a culture that recognises individuality and belongingness.

2. Inclusive culture and supportive leadership

Workplace culture plays a major role in building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Workplaces can create a culture that values diversity within their teams through setting standards of respectful behaviour and not tolerating discrimination/ harassment or bullying / victimisation. Furthermore, leaders play a central role in the creation and ongoing support of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Recruiting diverse employees means very little if they don’t feel included or supported to thrive in their role. Supportive leadership can foster an inclusive work environment where employees are respected, their opinions are valued, and their ideas are heard.

3. Diversity and inclusion training

Diversity and inclusion training can help to build self-awareness and understanding of unconscious biases. This involves identifying and becoming aware of the hidden biases you may have when it comes to diversity and inclusion at work. Whilst it is not as simple as changing our unconscious biases (they are in fact unconscious!), putting these biases at the forefront of our minds  when making important decisions such as promotions, salaries, recruitment, and leadership are all important in contributing to a more inclusive workplace.

To learn more about how your workplace can implement more diverse and inclusive practices, contact the Centre for Corporate Health 02 8243 1500 or admin@cfch.com.au