Taking Action: How to Build and Maintain a Supportive and Inclusive Culture

There’s a common misconception that when you’ve built equitable practices into your organisational processes resulting in a more diverse, well-represented organisation, that people would feel included within your company. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In my last blog piece, I shared some principles about cognitive diversity. This is one of the 3 types of diversities that shape our identities, with the other 2 being demographic and experimental diversity. Demographic diversity is tied to our identities of origin - these are the characteristics we have from birth that will be with us for the rest of our lives. Experiential diversity is based on life experiences that shape our emotional universe. You can read more about ‘The 3 Types of Diversity That Shape Our Identities’ by Celia de Anca and Salvador Aragón here: Harvard Business Review

As mentioned in my previous blog, it doesn’t just stop at building up a diverse team. This is where inclusivity comes in to successfully support a diverse workforce. In this blog piece, I will provide some tips on how to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and includes each employee.

Learning and development programs

  • Teach about unconscious bias and ensure that people are included across all levels 
  • Mentoring programs for historically excluded peopleTrack the process over several months to check if the efforts are effective
  • Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning and development
  • Don’t use a set budget for development
  • Offer easy access to employee resource groups in order to develop talent and support managers to learn from diverse employees

Providing the opportunity to be heard especially to those more introverted or junior  

  • Create spaces, community and support groups either virtually, inhouse or externally for historically excluded people
  • Promote a two-way feedback culture
  • Have regular check-ins
  • Make it known which Managers and Leaders can be approached about specific sensitive topics of discussion e.g. microaggressions
  • During group or larger team meetings, split into smaller groups so introverts and juniors feel more comfortable to speak up
  • Regularly survey your employees and gather their feedback on how your organisation can be more inclusive

Internal structures and policies

  • Obtain and maintain leadership buy-in
  • Promote and enforce equitable pay        
  • Create a group consisting of diversity advocates such as a DEI change team
  • Evaluate company policies
  • Create a company DEI strategy and have this approved by your CEO
  • Respect religious and cultural holidays in other cultures and provide more flexibility to the people who are affected by these days e.g. different allocation of employees’ holiday day allowances granted  
  • Using different styles of management and tailoring their approach to creating a psychologically safe space for direct reports – and helping empower them

Reconstructing teams and ways of work

  • Recognise and reward everyone’s performances, and make sure to focus on people from all levels across a variety of different behaviours and achievements
  • Mix employees into diverse teams so they can learn and cooperate with each other
  • Start using technology such as AI-powered recruiting tools
  • Make sure your office (or provided work-from-home set up) is accessible and accommodating for those with disabilities or neurodiversities e.g. wheelchair accessibility, noise and light
  • Offer different work environments to suit individual needs e.g. remote, hybrid or office

In order to maintain inclusivity, your company has to reflect on many different aspects when it comes to training, communication, policies and teams. Remember to constantly include your people in the conversation and development of DEI within your organization. Do your people feel like they have enough support and training? Are they feeling a sense of community and connection? Do they feel like they contribute and are heard on a daily basis? Do they feel a shared sense of purpose with their co-workers and peers? In the work environment, every employee should be valued because of their unique inputs and efforts. And, never forget that embedding DEI and maintaining these procedures requires the support and ongoing efforts of your entire organisation.

Thank you for reading and kindly feel free to share any more additional tips you have for creating inclusive environments that empower, welcome and include employees!