Build an inclusive workplace culture

An inclusive, positive workplace culture supports employees at all levels to bring their whole selves to work.

What is inclusive organisational culture?

Our employees will thrive best in a place where they feel supported, valued and celebrated. That’s why it’s important for us to build an inclusive company culture. This means a place that embraces differences, makes sure employees feel heard, and helps the entire workforce to feel connected.

An organisation’s culture is the culmination of the priorities, values and behaviors, which support employees in how they work singularly, in teams and with clients. Culture plays a huge role in moving the diversity needle and forming truly inclusive environments.

A positive company culture should be committed to professional values, which support all employees, of all backgrounds, genders, ethnicity, sexuality, and allow them to work with leaders of our organisation, rather than feeling like they are simply working for them.

5 ways to make your organisational culture more inclusive

Here are 5 simple steps to get us thinking about making our culture more inclusive of everyone who works with us.

1. A truly inclusive workplace culture begins with transparent leadership

Our company’s founders and executive team need to have the desire to build a diverse culture and hire people who are open to working with a diverse group of people. “Culture is everything in the workplace and workforce. Policies and practices sit on paper, but one of the strongest things you can do to start to change hearts and minds, as well as the business ecosystem, is really powerful storytelling. And we need our leaders to lead in that. We need our CEOs to step forward to illuminate their own personal stories, in what ways they’re connected to disability and why inclusion matters to them.” - Crosby Cromwell, Chief Partnerships Officer, The Valuable 500

2. Focus on inclusive recruitment

Once our leadership team sets the tone, it’s vital to extend that attitude throughout the organisation. The great thing about creating a culture of belonging is that it can be adopted both bottom-up, and top down, as well as peer-to-peer.

3. Make work a safe space for employees

Inclusive workplaces go the extra mile to consider the safety and comfort of all employees, especially those in marginalised groups. Inclusive spaces can be created simply by spending time with one another. Consider hosting team lunches and other informal events where employees can casually connect with each other. If the organisation is bigger, creating an in-office support group or network for diverse employees can help them connect with others who share their experiences. Employee Resource Groups can provide a safe, open environment to spark conversations and discuss the topics that are important to the community.

4. Connect with employees mindfully

One of the best ways to signal to your employees that it’s safe to be themselves is to connect with them on a personal level. Be transparent with them about your own life and experiences.

5. Give employees multiple ways to provide feedback

Creating an inclusive culture is no simple task. And it’s likely to be one that evolves over time. That means it’s important to give employees an outlet for connecting with others and sharing their stories, and to let us know how our efforts are being received. Whether it’s an employee survey, discussions or campaigns, giving your employees multiple ways to share their feedback, their perspective and their stories will create an open dialogue that can lead to more positive outcomes.

An inclusive culture is a work in progress. We’ll need to constantly revisit our policies and programs to create a more tolerant, diverse environment. If any gaps are identified, make it a priority to take action to close them, so that every employee can feel like they belong and are being supported to thrive.

10 DE&I Leaders 'Pass The Torch': 10 Things You Can Do To Personally Make A Change

In this blog, you can read about 10 things you can do, to help drive change and inclusivity in your organisation. The tips provided in this blog are from leaders at organisations who are at the forefront of DE&I.

Creating an inclusive culture in your organisation

Register for this series of on demand webinars powered by neurodivergent talent and DE&I experts from global brands. Discover how to create a workplace that celebrates diversity, amplifies voices, and creates a sense of belonging for all.

In this series, explore what you can do to improve your workplace culture, so that disabled and neurodivergent staff feel comfortable and confident to bring their full selves to work.

What are the characteristics of an inclusive workplace?

Before we can pursue inclusion in the workplace, we need to understand the basics — how people experience inclusion and the traits of an inclusive workplace.

  • There is a welcoming workplace culture where everyone is treated with respect and dignity and everyone feels valued.
  • Policies are in place concerning equality and human rights, working conditions, dignity at work, employee welfare and fair recruitment and procurement practices.
  • Members of staff at all levels are aware of the inclusive values of the organisation and are actively consulted and involved in policy development.
  • The workforce is representative of the local community or customers (or if not, under-represented groups are encouraged to apply).
  • All employees are encouraged to develop and progress, and any barriers faced by specific groups are identified and action taken to address them.
  • Unnecessary hierarchies and occupational segregation, where groups of employees are congregated into certain areas, are discouraged.
  • The organisation is aware of any potential tensions within the workplace, and takes action to anticipate and address them.
  • Inclusive strategies are fully supported and promoted by senior staff.

2 inspiring examples of inclusive workplace culture

At Texthelp, we strive to work with organisations who share our passion for inclusion. Many of our clients are leading the way in inclusion and we love to take the opportunity to share what they’re doing.

Leading the way in workplace inclusion and belonging at Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young (EY) is a company whose sole purpose is to 'build a better working world' - for their people, their clients and their communities. Achieving a sense of belonging is to feel valued and accepted for who you are. In the workplace, that means feeling comfortable and confident to bring our full selves to work. At EY, they believe that ‘Inclusiveness is about leveraging our differences, where everyone experiences a sense of belonging and feels safe to surface many aspects of who they are and bring forward their perspectives and ideas.’

Creating a great place to work at Sainsburys

Sainsburys are taking great steps to support every employee. And in a recent podcast, Toby Hopkins, Colleague Inclusion and Engagement Executive at Sainsbury's talked us through some of the initiatives that they’re employing to make Sainsburys a great place to work. During the podcast, we heard about the initiatives the supermarket chain has put in place to support its employees, including those with disabilities, long-term health conditions or neurodiversity.

Get inspired

We’re constantly inspired by our clients and their efforts to promote inclusion. We’ve also detailed some of the things we do here at Texthelp which helps with employee engagement and boosts our inclusive culture.

Technology to support an inclusive workplace

Register for this series of on demand webinars, and interactive resources to discover technology that supports an inclusive working environment. Explore how it's helping organisations make small changes with big impact for diversity and inclusion.

By registering, you'll:

  • Receive a webinar recording titled, 'Inclusive technology to support, attract, and retain neurodiverse talent'
  • Discover web accessibility software to support inclusive recruitment. Gain resources to help you learn about the software, and a free 30 day trial to try it for yourself
  • Explore inclusive technology to help a neurodiverse workforce to thrive. Access an interactive tour, video demo and more
  • Gain insights from organisations and employees benefiting from inclusive tools