What does having an inclusive workforce mean?
An inclusive workforce is where people with differences and disabilities feel welcome and valued for their contributions at work. It’s a place where people with disabilities both visible and invisible disabilities have the same opportunities without any differences for growing in career as their co-workers. And it’s a place where people feel secure disclosing their disabilities that aren’t visible without any judgements.
“An inclusive culture assumes everyone is capable of doing a good job regardless of disability”
Inclusive workforce is a working culture that values individuals and harnesses the abilities of each individual, which enables an organization to embrace different backgrounds and perspectives. Building an inclusive workplace is a major facet of the modern workplace. Inclusive workforce includes minority groups and under-served populations, providing opportunity for them to be represented in the workplace. Employers strive for inclusion and diversity because an inclusive workforce drives innovation. Race, ethnicity, and sex are common factors in diversity initiatives, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the sexual orientation, gender identity, age, when practicing inclusion.
How does one feel included?
When employees feel like they “have a voice,” and they are heard, they’re more likely to share their opinions with others.
Sense of belonging
An employee’s sense of connection to their organization is built on belonging the feeling that you’re a part of an environment that knows and values you without any bias
Just like an employee needs belonging and connection, they also need to feel unique among their colleagues, that their organization cares about their individual strengths and experiences.
Irrespective of designation or department, a collaborative environment can help break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion.
Availability of resources
Resources like support and motivation from managers or diversity and affinity groups help employees know their organization is committed to their well-being and growth.
Steps to nurture inclusive workforce
Restructuring workforce policies
The first step to building an inclusive workforce will need you to create new policies or abolish some previous ones entirely.
For instance -
Facilitate the hiring process to include candidates from various community outreach programs, job fairs, and hiring consultancies, irrespective of race, sex and ethnicity.Keep options open for people differently abled, this ensures that you have a variety of diverse talents.
Different cultures and traditions demand different holidays. Make sure your employees get leaves for holidays that are not covered in the official company holiday calendar.
Communication of inclusion goals
Simply creating inclusive workplace policies isn’t enough. It’s necessary to communicate your expectations to your workforce. To ensure that inclusion goals are met, create dedicated inclusion and diversity panels. Having a diverse panel of members ranging across various departments without biases ensures that the process remains transparent for everyone.
One of the most significant ways to show that you respect your employees' culture and traditions is to invite them to do the same in your organization.
- Potluck lunches where people bring in food that represents their culture.
- Ensure that employees of various races, cultures, and ethnicities have a say in your organization's decision-making process.
Abandon of quotas
Unfortunately, many organizations tokenize their employees under several caste and quota categories, this limits opportunities for the ones who aren't covered under any such quotas, hence it is very important to abandon these quotas and treat everyone the same based on their skill and potential.
Conduct exit interviews to understand why employees leave, and try to fix the issue whenever possible, this will be a great source to know and equalize the culture in organizations.
For organizations wishing to foster an inclusive workplace culture, the change can be challenging, yet highly rewarding. In today's era it's very necessary to understand and ensure different backgrounds and perspectives feel valued within the organizations which will in turn help the organization sustain a strong competitive advantage and prevent top talent from walking out the door.