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6 Tips on How to Be Inclusive at Work

August 2, 2019

How to Be Inclusive at Work – A Guide for Employees. While many companies and their employees say they’re committed to creating diverse work environments, not all understand the importance of inclusion, mostly due to a misunderstanding of its definition and link to diversity.


The 2018 LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends Report explains it best. If diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. The same report found that 78% of companies consider diversity “very” or “extremely” important while only 52% are “very” or “extremely” focused on inclusion.


If we take this metaphor to heart, employers are responsible for organizing the dance, but employees determine its success.


Diversity and inclusion create workplace environments that benefit everyone within them, from entry-level to CEO. But creating such an environment starts at the individualistic level. Read the following tips to learn why and how to be inclusive at work.


Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion

Companies who have discovered the link between diversity and inclusion experience tremendous growth, displayed in the following benefits.


  • Inclusive companies experienced 2.3 times higher capital per employee within a period of just three years.
  • These companies were also 2.9 times more likely to identify and build leaders, a crucial step to gaining a competitive edge within a company’s industry.
  • Employees in such companies were 3.8 times more likely to be coachable for improved performances.
  • Inclusive companies on the smaller side of the spectrum experienced amounts of available resources that were 13 times higher from operations.


But it’s not just about managerial levels. There are several benefits for employees as well.


In an environment that’s open to every voice, perspective, opinion, and idea, employees tend to feel more comfortable and happier. As a result, workers feel confident and have more team morale.


A confident and happy employee enjoys better work-life balance, along with more opportunity for pay raises and career advancements.


When a team and their leaders join to create a diverse and inclusive environment, everyone wins.


6 Tips for Being an Inclusive Employee

Employers should be doing their part to create a diverse and inclusive work environment (e.g. offering educational opportunities and leading by example) but inclusion starts on an individual level. Here are six tips to keep in mind.


  1. Education before implementation

Without believing in its purpose and power, inclusion is impossible to achieve. Take the time to research inclusion so you come off as authentic instead of forced in your efforts.


At the same time, don’t put off inclusion because you’re still learning. Focus on progress instead of perfection.


  1. Every situation is unique

While bringing awareness to different holidays or cultural practices can help create inclusion, make sure you respect privacy in personal situations and life choices.


For example, when an employee is embracing their true self, clarifying their sexual orientation, or undergoing a transitioning process, don’t shine the spotlight on them. Instead, let them control the degree of attention they receive. Silent inclusion is just as powerful as celebratory.


  1. Reach out to new people

Don’t limit yourself to the same circle. Instead, branch out and get to know your coworkers. Whenever an opportunity presents itself to introduce yourself, take it. Stop hiding at your desk during lunch. Consider starting a company interest group.


If all else fails, at least learn as many names as possible. Just knowing someone’s name from a different department can make them feel valued.


  1. Leave assumptions at the door

Sometimes, we can be biased in our actions and words without realizing it. For example, pronouns can be assumptive. Assuming gender with a pronoun based on a name, appearance, or job title can send a harmful message.


Take the time to evaluate your subconscious responses to your environment. If you hold the door open for a woman, do you also hold it open for a man? Even innocent actions can have negative connotations.


  1. Hold others responsible

If you see behavior that’s not inclusive, get involved. Read the situation to see what type of approach will be the most beneficial. If the offense was accidental, pull the individual aside and explain how they could have been inclusive.


But if an employee seems to be undermining inclusion, getting management involved might be necessary.


  1. Understand inclusion is always evolving

If your employer offers diversity and inclusion training, always participate. When it comes to inclusion, there’s always room for growth.


Never stop learning how to make others feel welcomed and appreciated and share your knowledge whenever possible. Be an example of the change you want to see.


At its core, inclusion is about understanding, accepting, and valuing not just demographic differences but also different lifestyles, personality characteristics, education levels, perspectives, and opinions.


If your employer has done their part by hiring employees that create a richly diverse culture with tremendous talent, do your part by being passionately inclusive. Learning how to be inclusive at work today will always lead to a better tomorrow.

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