Creating An Inclusive Workspace: Diversity Inclusion
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You’ve almost certainly heard of inclusivity and diversity, and you may have heard these phrases used in different contexts. You may, however, be struggling to find out how this can be applicable in terms of your business!

It’s not enough to just have good intentions when it comes to being inclusive – you need to be able to take action. So what can you do to make sure that your workplace is inclusive and your workforce is diverse?

How can you make sure that your company represents the best interests of a variety of people from the moment they are hired to when they are working alongside you?

In order to understand how you can implement protocols and frameworks to make your workplace more diverse and inclusive, you first need to understand what we mean by those phrases…

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Diversity, in the context of the workplace, refers to the employees of a company or business representing many different characteristics, as opposed to having employees who only represent one small cross section of society. The ‘characteristics’ of employees could mean many different things, such as “…gender diversity, religious diversity, language diversity, different education levels, different viewpoints, and unique abilities”. 
 
Your workforce should be a cross section of society as it truly is – a group of people all of whom represent different backgrounds and have different interests, strengths, life experiences and lifestyles. 
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If diversity refers to the types of people within your workplace, inclusivity means ensuring that everyone gets access to the same opportunities, support, and resources.

Making your business inclusive means that everyone feels valued, no matter their background, gender, age, race or ethnicity. The CIPD notes that “Workplace inclusion is when people feel valued and accepted in their team and in the wider organisation, without having to conform”.

The key point here is without having to conform. A diverse and inclusive workplace allows people to flourish, exactly as they are.

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A diverse business is a strong business because every single different viewpoint adds to the bigger picture. When your workforce only represents a confined cross section of society, you are only seeing a small part of the whole picture.

Diversity isn’t a new concept, but companies have only become more aware of inclusivity and diversity in recent years. The internet and social media have also played a huge role in placing more pressure on businesses to take positive action towards a more inclusive workplace.

It doesn’t just matter because it’s what’s fair – it’s also beneficial for your business too. The more perspectives you get within your business, the better equipped you are to handle any challenges or problems you might face.

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Hiring:

Inclusion and diversity begin at the hiring process. There are many ways you can make your hiring process inclusive, but the fundamentals include making sure you remove any unconscious bias and making it easier for a diverse range of people to apply to any roles you advertise.
Some ways you can make your hiring processes more inclusive include:
• Use a panel of diverse interviewers to avoid unconscious bias.
• Avoid asking candidates to fill in long forms and provide written responses – these types of applications can be unfairly difficult for those who are neurodivergent.
• Make sure your job ad uses inclusive language and make it clear that you encourage applications from those with disabilities (hidden or otherwise).
• View ‘blind’ CVs (i.e., CVs that have identifying information, such as gender, removed) to avoid unconscious bias.
• Create diversity goals and targets for your company to make sure you keep inclusivity at the forefront.

Make accommodations:

Making accommodations for the diverse ways in which people work is a great way to make your workplace as inclusive as possible.
Accommodations may include giving employees time off for religious holidays that you don’t observe yourself, or allowing neurodivergent employees to work the way they feel is best.

It is important, however, to avoid making assumptions about an employee’s needs or requirements. One of the most important things to note about improving diversity and inclusivity is that not being diverse isn’t necessarily a malicious or intentional act – A lot of issues to do with inclusivity arise because people may make assumptions about what others need.
That’s why its so important to create an environment where people feel they can ask for any accommodations that they need and know that they’ll be listened to and respected.

Encourage communication:

The key here is two-way communication – that means that the listening must extend both ways! Open communication within your workplace is essential if your business is going to be as inclusive and diverse as possible.
This may be difficult in a larger organisation, but here are some ideas:
• Let people know that meetings are a safe space where they can share any ideas they may have
• Have regular one-to-one meetings with those you work with to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for them to voice their opinions
• Encourage collaboration when implementing new ideas or processes. Make sure your team knows that their ideas count!

Making sure your business is inclusive is a job that never truly ends – there will always be room for improvement! The important thing is to make a conscious, continuous effort!