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How to create an inclusive workplace culture

Two women at work in an office

In an ideal workplace, inclusivity is at the heart of the company’s culture and each person is valued, respected and given fair access to workplace opportunities. But how can you start - or continue - to promote this culture in your workplace?

What does Workplace Culture mean?

To genuinely improve inclusivity at work, we have to want to do it, and then we have to turn our intent into action. When an organisation guides its employees on how to behave and then holds everyone accountable for their behaviour - from the bottom to the top - it makes a workplace welcoming, kind and safe for everybody. 

It’s when we hold ourselves accountable for putting our intentions into action that positive changes are made, and a positive workplace culture grows. Workplace culture is a phrase that covers several ideas in one. It’s about how the beliefs, values and traditions of an organisation shape the attitudes and behaviours someone sees in the workplace. 

So workplace culture is made up of things like…  employees’ opinions - are they asked for or not? A good work/home life balance - is this encouraged? Development opportunities - are staff given any? Individual needs - are your employees respected and are reasonable adjustments made if needed? It also includes how staff members socialise outside of work, and whether employers organise social and team-building events - among other things. 

So what is your workplace culture like? Can you think of a few examples of how your workplace culture affects what you and your staff do or say while you’re all at work, or how they feel? And are there any improvements that can be made to make it more inclusive? Remember to encourage your staff to share their ideas with their colleagues and management to create positive change!

Getting started

Your workplace may be at the beginning of making needed changes, or perhaps you have practices in place already. Regardless of whether you want to use these ideas as a refresher, a reminder for improvement, or as a starting point - here’s five things that your organisation can do, to work towards creating the ideal workplace. And don’t forget, all employees are in a position to ask for these things too.

  1. Create policies and procedures that protect staff safety and wellbeing, starting with an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion policy, an Anti-Bullying & Harassment policy, a Grievance Policy and Procedure, and an Anti-Racism Strategy. Getting the input of your staff is crucial so managers know they are really addressing what they need to. All policies must be easily accessible for everyone at all times.
  2. Create company values. Keep the number small - perhaps 5 - and again, employee input is key. They should be honest, simple and easy to remember. They can go up on your company website and around your workplace. They should be part of everyday conversation at work so everyone absorbs the same ethos; and most importantly - you all need to live by them! It’s not enough to merely put them on paper.
  3. Create a supportive workplace culture. It’s so important that everyone feels comfortable, safe, happy, and valued at work. This responsibility is with every single one of you  - leaders and employees alike - to treat one another with kindness and respect.
  4. Training and self-learning. The first should be provided for your employees, and the second is something for them to implement. It’s crucial for your team to learn about communicating openly and respectfully, maintaining personal wellbeing, understanding current social issues, and complying with the law.
  5. Employ an HR representative. Managers can also go one step further and get certain staff trained as Mental Health First Aiders, or offer an Employee Assistance Programme so there is more support available to employees. An employee should feel confident about knowing what help is available at work and how they can access it. And they should also feel comfortable asking for help. 

If this has brought anything to mind that you think you should bring up with your managers or your team, please make a note of it while it’s fresh in your mind so you can discuss it with them shortly. 

Positive Action

Allyship and Positive Action are two things that your organisation should embody.

It’s up to all employees to take the initiative and make a positive difference where they can. And in the ideal workplace, managers will do the same. Positive Action isn’t a legal requirement but it’s something that everyone can choose to do, to help tackle any equality imbalances at work. It means taking steps to reduce the disadvantages that some people face because of a protected characteristic. 

Positive Action can be used with potential employees, existing staff, clients and customers. For example, if an organisation has a small number of women in its senior management team, it can offer a development programme to women only, in order to help female staff progress into management roles, but the role should only be offered to someone who has the needed skills and capabilities for the job.  It’s important that someone’s merit is the deciding factor - so you don’t accidentally steer into positive discrimination. 

Inclusion Training for your workplace

As you’ve seen above, starting to or continuing to create an inclusive workplace culture is simple. Our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Training and Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training courses are a fantastic place to start. 

These courses will help you to provide your staff with the tools they need to:

  • feel more confident in addressing sensitive issues surrounding equality, diversity, equity and inclusion, 
  • inspire them to make a positive difference in your workplace and the wider community, 
  • provide them with a better understanding of how visible and invisible disabilities can affect people both at work and outside of it, 
  • play their part in making sure that all employees are given equal consideration and fair access to the same opportunities 

Get instant access to these courses today to start your journey of creating an inclusive workplace culture today.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Training