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Updated: November 13, 2023 Advice

101: Workplace inclusion

Companies know they need to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion, but achieving a truly inclusive workplace is something many human resource managers find elusive.

True inclusion transcends hiring practices. It’s about making sure all employees feel welcome, valued and heard. Short of that, companies may fall into what Forbes calls “tokenism” – thinking that if they hire a few minority candidates or add a woman to the C-suite, they’ve done their job.

Here are some keys to achieving real inclusion.

Think outside the box. Hiring people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds will strengthen any team. Women and LGBTQ+ candidates bring needed perspective to an organization. But what about those who are disabled, religious minorities – even new parents?

Ensuring you reach people with different life experiences – whether with an accommodation or a support group – reduces isolation and increases engagement. Employers may even consider upgrading mother’s rooms or rethinking common spaces for those with physical disabilities.

“When companies value employees with diverse backgrounds, it shows employees that their unique qualities are assets to the team rather than something to hide,” says Top Work Places, publisher of the Energage Workplace Survey.

Respect traditions. Top Work Places suggests offering paid-time-off policies to allow employees to celebrate their own religious holidays. Keeping office parties nondenominational doesn’t mean you have to avoid religious or cultural traditions at work. Asking employees to share their traditions, perhaps with a special dish during a monthly lunch or through an employee newsletter highlighting what different people celebrate, is festive and engaging.

Banish cliques. Consider an egalitarian approach to work socialization. If there’s a regular outing after work, send an office-wide invitation. Actively work to make sure all employees feel they belong on the team.

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