Topic 4 How to Create an Inclusive Work Environment

Question: How can organizations take an effective next step in their journey of creating a culture of D&I?

It starts with understanding the business case for building a workplace that embraces diversity and knowing what it takes to shift from a compliance-driven diversity program to a culture of inclusion that creates a competitive advantage by inviting all employees into the conversation

  • Commit With Purpose
  • Meeting Change
  • Leadership Matters
  • Acknowledge The Biases
  • Embrace The Differences
  • To build a more inclusive workplace it is important to understand the unconscious biases, recognize them as well as overcoming those. When implementing successful D&I policies it is important to create an inclusive environment which builds a safe and respectful workplace.
  • It is important for organisations to maintain transparent communication, openness and trust, better opportunities to employees to have a say in issues that affect everyone

Inclusive workplace practices include:

  • Active participation of senior leadership at various events important to certain diversity groups
  • Implementation of the regular diversity training programs covering all employees
  • Creation and participation in the activities for various diversity groups
  • Avoiding personal unconscious bias to build event, activities, groups
Photo by Kampus Production:

Inclusive Job advertising

  • The way a company represents themselves in their ads can be crucial in the diversity of candidates who apply.
  • It is important for the employer branding
  • Use neutral language and inclusive wording
  • Avoid mentioning preferable age in job description
  • Avoid gender coding, masculine wording
  • Encourage applicants from diverse groups and from all sections of the community
  • Be explicit about the job functions
  • In the ad, include statement of commitment to diversity and equal opportunities in the organisation

Diversity Hiring: Selection Criteria and Job Interview

Diversity hiring is based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance.

  • Consider blind hiring: a process used to block out a job candidate’s personal information that could influence or “bias” a hiring decision. Bias can present itself in many ways — both unconscious and conscious — and research says that bias can occur as early as the initial resume-screening phase.
  • Interviewer must consider if the time, place, accessibility and hiring methods are appropriate to all members of the community
  • Use inclusive language/wording
  • Make the job offer: ask them if they have any specific needs or requirements
  • Avoid asking personal questions (i.e. are you planning to get married/get pregnant soon)
  • Involve a diverse set of people in the hiring process, including during the interview to independently assess candidates
  • Stick to structured interviews and score cards with objective metrics to achieve objectivity – structured interviews are better at predicting job performance than unstructured interviews (Macan 2009).
Photo by cottonbro:

Inclusive employee practices

  • Fair pay and working conditions for everybody. It also involves the decision about the duties assigned (and paid for) based on skills and expertise. Transparent communication about pay system and specific decisions is recommended.
  • Diversity training and education is a crucial component to the overall diversity strategy as it is a way to improve employee, management, vendor, and customer relations. It should not be utilized alone, but as part of an overall strategy.
  • Equality surveys
  • Diversity awareness training
  • Diversity skills training
  • Integrate diversity into other trainings
  • Diverse team training
  • Partnering with in-house trainer/external consultant
  • Simulation diversity training
  • Cultural training
  • Required diversity core training for managers
  • Sexual harassment training
  • Consulting pairs
  • Interpersonal/communicational skill-building
  • It is important to focus on your employees’ work-life balance in order to retain capable, dedicated employees, with improved productivity, commitment and satisfaction
  • Equal treatment of different forms of family and care relationships
  • Flexible work time
  • Telecommuting
  • Childcare center
  • Childcare resource and referral services
  • Relocation assistance
  • Job sharing
  • Family care leave assistance
  • Part-time work assignments
  • Working from home
  • Reimbursement for dependent care
  • Fitness and wellbeing programs
  • Elder care referral services
Photo by Alexander Suhorucov:

Key requirements to meet

A culture of inclusiveness is rooted in respect. Employees must be treated and treat others with civility and decency. Just knowing that respect is a company requirement, encourages workers to speak up and share new ideas.

One Gallup study found that people who had received strengths coaching showed substantially higher improvement in perceived inclusiveness.

As noted, one of the reasons companies have diversity policies to begin with is simply because it’s the right thing to do. That’s good. But for that diversity strategy to promote a culture of inclusion too, leaders must make their values and intentions clear. Leaders must intentionally create an environment where employees feel they can safely express themselves and where specific concerns can be raised with transparency and confidence.


Can you think of a good practice that your organization adopted or you would like to apply in the future? What are the potential challenges in adopting this practice?