Creating An Inclusive Workspace: Diversity Inclusion
Omage of a desk with a clock on its back and pencil on a curriculum vitae with the text underneath saying: How can a neurodiverse individual effectively prepare for a jon interview/meetig

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!

I always knew I wanted to be my own boss one day, but the right time never seemed to present itself.

On a camping weekend, I hurt my ankle badly and I simply couldn’t drive, the mega Corp I worked for as an Executive Assistant were surprisingly sympathetic and rather than just be off work sick, they arranged remote access to work from home, happy days, no commuting. Eureka!! I could do this on a permanent basis if I took “The Risk.”

I handed in my notice and started building my business, sourcing associate work to tide me over until I had my own clients.

One unremarkable day I had a query from a potential client who literally changed my life, she explained that she was Neurodivergent, (something that I’d had a little bit of experience with within my former corporate life) and could really do with a VA that could cope with her particular way of working. I finally realised it wasn’t just the commuting I struggled with, it was the whole corporate world that I didn’t want to engage with, my passion has always been to try and help/assist wherever I can.

Neurodivergent clients are simply the best, no one client is the same as the next and the feeling of accomplishment when I know I’ve actually made a positive difference can’t be beaten.

So if you’re a Neurodivergent business owner, take that “risk”, arrange a call with me, join my Facebook group or take out a membership and see how me and my marvellous team could give any assistance needed.

Taking a risk could mean leaving that job you’ve hated for years. Maybe you’re dreaming of starting your own business or thinking about going back to school because the degree you got the first time just wasn’t the right fit. Or perhaps, it’s about finally saying NO MORE to always trying to make everyone else happy.

To really grow—both personally and in business—you’ve got to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Do you have the courage to take a risk?

What’s holding you back?

Are you stuck in the “what ifs”?

Are you just surviving or feeling stuck in your comfort zone, struggling to break free?

If you’ve been thinking about making a change but fear of failure is stopping you, it’s time to ask yourself: What part of myself am I losing because I’m afraid to take a risk?

Only you know what needs to shift for you to move forward.

When I started my own business in 2018, I had those same doubts and fears. Leaving a secure, full-time job with no clients lined up was a huge risk. But looking back, I have no regrets. It was the right move for me, and it’s paid off in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Now, I wouldn’t tell everyone to just quit their job. It was a decision that took a lot of planning and careful consideration. I was lucky to have a backup plan and the support of my husband. Without that, I couldn’t have made the leap.

Back then, I was stretched thin, working over 70 hours a week at a demanding full-time job. I realised I couldn’t give my all to both my job and my personal aspirations. The thought of continuing on that path, neglecting my own dreams, was fast becoming a non-option.

Leaving a steady salary behind was scary, especially with no clients lined up. But staying in my comfort zone wouldn’t bring the fulfilment and success I wanted. So, I decided to take the risk.

My boss thought I was crazy and even offered to let me stay on part-time, working 20 hours a week. For some, that might have been a good compromise. But for me, it wasn’t just about the money. I pride myself on giving 100% to whatever I do, and I knew that splitting my time would mean I couldn’t give my best to either role.

So, despite the uncertainty and scepticism from others, I chose to just DO IT and take my own path. By no means was it an easy decision and on my last day at work I felt physically sick!  As I walked out of the office for the last time and got in my car, for the 1000th time, that day I had doubts and what if’s running through my head!  What the bloody hell had I done?  And more importantly, now I was on my own, where do I start?  There was no one to tell me what to do and I was seriously thinking of going back and asking for my job back!

Now 5 years on, I can confidently say it was the right decision. It hasn’t been easy, and there have been moments of doubt, but the freedom to pursue my passion has been worth every challenge and sacrifice.

I love what I’m doing!

Taking risks can be inspiring, enjoyable, and help you grow in so many ways. Embrace it!

What are the potential rewards of taking risks in life?

Sense of Accomplishment: Taking risks is scary, but it leads to self-discovery. Many people I know had no idea where their journey would take them, but the sense of accomplishment and pride they feel is incredible.

They feel alive for the first time, I know I did!

Personal Freedom: Imagine working with people you like and doing what you really enjoy – this is your path to personal freedom.

Letting Go of the Past: Challenging old routines and assumptions can be rewarding. By taking risks, you can disprove old beliefs and free yourself from negative thoughts and “what ifs”.

Self-Discovery: This is a biggie; risks help you learn about yourself, your values, and what drives you. With new experiences, you can find what truly makes you happy. My journey from being an employee to running my own business has been a profound experience of self-discovery.

Increased Confidence: Each risk you take builds your confidence and makes you more flexible and a better decision-maker.

New Opportunities: Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to new opportunities, both professionally and personally and it’s so exciting when this happens and I LOVE meeting new people and learning. No more stuck in that 9 to 5 waiting for someone to leave before you get the opportunity to get promoted.

Resilience: Risks teach you how to handle setbacks, building resilience and the ability to navigate challenges like a pro.

No Regrets: If the risk works out, fantastic! If not, it’s a valuable lesson that makes you wiser. We learn from our mistakes.

 

For those who are neurodivergent, taking risks can feel daunting, but it can also lead to incredible personal development and success. Using a Virtual Assistant can be a game-changer, providing essential support and helping to navigate uncertainties.

Starting to take risks can be scary, but that’s okay. It’s natural to want to stay safe. Trust me, taking risks can be fun too. There’s a whole world out there with endless possibilities. To figure out which risks are right for you, just go with your gut. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even if something doesn’t go as planned, you’ll learn from it and grow.

Curious about how Virtual Assistant support can change your risk-taking journey with a business that understands what it’s like to run a successful business. Schedule a FREE consultation with me—no risk here, I promise!

 

Ps. Yes, that’s me jumping out of a plane for charity!

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