13 consciously inclusive behaviors to foster in the workplace

What is one way your organization can be more proactive in creating a workplace where curiosity about differences is welcomed and encouraged, and where inclusion is the mutual responsibility of everyone?

To help you create a workplace where differences are welcomed and encouraged by everyone, we asked business professionals and leaders for their insights. From setting expectations and actions to encouraging regular one-on-one check-ins, there are several ways to create a workplace where differences are welcomed by all.

Here are thirteen consciously inclusive behaviors to foster in the workplace.

  1. Set expectations and actions
    Represent the type of culture you want to see in your workplace, and make the expectations clear. While it may seem uncomfortable to bring up in conversation a desire for this type of environment, doing so provides a large capacity for culture, and cultural shift within your organization. Thus, the way to create and install this curiosity and inclusion in your workplace is to talk to your employees about it, and to behave in the very manner you desire to see.
    Be what you want to see.

    Boye Fajinmi, TheFutureParty

  2. Accept a wide variety of viewpoints
    Inclusion can mean different things to different people, and you have to take that reality into account. When encouraging an environment where people feel safe expressing their curiosity about differences, this naturally means accepting a wide variety of viewpoints. It can be difficult to get everyone on board. We have to find better ways to inspire people to accept the mutual responsibility of fostering and protecting an inclusive workplace.

    Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center

  3. Instill a sense of mutual responsibility with agile frameworks
    I think we could be better when it comes to explaining how a workplace where inclusion is the responsibility of everyone can benefit everyone. It isn’t so difficult for people to understand the advantages of encouraging an atmosphere where curiosity about differences is welcomed. Agile is based on a mindset shift that embraces change, improvement and open communication. This is why the Agile framework can be one way to instill a sense of mutual responsibility toward inclusion, while at the same time celebrating differences.

    Debra Hildebrand, Hildebrand Solutions, LLC

  4. Talk about what is right and what is not
    People are often afraid of revealing personal information or asking others because they are not sure what the corporate policy is. Providing a gentle guideline can help with that. It can show people what is encouraged and what is prohibited or not appropriate in simple examples.

    Rebeca Sena, GetSpace.digital

  5. Address inequalities through open and honest dialogue
    Conversations surrounding inequality, stereotypes, and biases are never easy, yet always essential. They help employees identify unconscious biases within their own perspectives and challenge their existing belief systems. By promoting a culture that fosters open and honest communication surrounding these topics, you encourage your workforce to actively participate and conquer their negative beliefs, paving the way for more inclusive company culture. Furthermore, when employees share experiences, they can empathize with the difficulties faced by minority groups and strive to treat each other better.

    Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

  6. Allow all voices to be heard during meetings
    The best way for employees to get to know one another better and to respect each others’ differences is to allow for all employees’ voices to be heard during team meetings. For instance, we have a tradition at our company called “Culture Friday” which involves having our whole team engage in a meeting every Friday to discuss company policies. Everyone is allowed to participate and this is a good way for employees to understand where their co-workers are coming from when they make certain suggestions. Furthermore, the company leadership takes everyone’s comments into consideration.

    Joaquín Roca, Minerva

  7. Provide safe spaces for everyone
    Provide safe spaces where everyone is free to express themselves and feel respected. These areas provide a break from judgment and unsolicited opinions from others. Examples of these are physical spaces like gender-neutral and accessible bathrooms.

    Safe, inclusive spaces also come in the form of activities that allow people to connect freely. For instance, holding monthly-themed events to celebrate cultural practices or awareness of social causes, team lunches, and other informal office events where everyone has the chance to shine, speak their thoughts, and participate in activities without any other requirements or conditions.

    Michelle Ebbin, JettProof

  8. Support cross-departmental mentorships
    In my experience, the first step in creating a culture of inclusion where people feel comfortable asking questions about differences and having curious, intelligent conversations starts with getting people outside their comfort zones. And for us, one good strategy we’ve employed to get the ball rolling is to support cross-departmental mentorships, where mentors and mentees work in completely different divisions. This allows the mentor to offer outside, objective advice to the mentee, while simultaneously allowing the mentee to feel secure in sharing their true thoughts and feelings, and asking questions. This open, honest and clear-eyed relationship produces the best results for both the mentor and mentee. Obviously, these types of relationships are only one step towards fostering a culture of open and honest discussion, but it has to start somewhere, and this program has worked well for us.

    John Ross, Test Prep Insight

  9. Observe multicultural holidays
    The best way is to be knowledgeable about the holidays and occasions and make an effort to observe them in the workplace. You can exempt an employee from working in case they have a valid reason, like important events such as religious practices. This promotes cross-cultural communication and also establishes a company culture that embraces diversity.

    Kathryn McDavid, Editor's Pick

  10. Include all team members when planning events
    The best way to introduce someone to a new culture or experience is to make it fun. Social outings, team building events, and workplace celebrations are great opportunities to break the ice on cultural sharing because people are already in a more relaxed, open mindset. Instead of turning to the same one or two people who always plan these outings, actively seek ideas from individuals who normally aren’t involved. Have employees from under-represented groups suggest the theme or location of your next work party or team building event. The same goes for holidays—don’t only celebrate or decorate for those of the majority; learn the traditions of everyone on your team and celebrate them collectively. These shifts help employees learn more about each other, and encourages them to be more open and curious in other aspects of their work life, too.

    Jon Hill, The Energists

  11. Revisit your pay structure
    One way to create a more inclusive workplace in which all team members hold a stake is to create compensation programs that are fair and equitable to all team members, especially those with diverse backgrounds. You can use wage and salary analytics to determine whether certain teammates are paid less or more than others for similar roles, making note of pay gaps to uncover the root issues of the system. Wage transparency policies can help create a strong camaraderie between teammates, too, so they can feel more empowered to speak up if they feel inequities are taking place.

    James Diel, Textel

  12. Journal your biases regularly
    To help your team become stakeholders in diversity promotion, you’ll want to help them uncover and address their unconscious biases, so they can work to minimize reinforcing them.

    Encouraging teammates and leaders across the organization to keep a thought journal on biases can help bring up an organization’s awareness levels while putting the power in your team’s hands to break stereotypes and replace their biases. These thought journals can be given to every team member during the onboarding process.

    John Li, Fig Loans

  13. Encourage regular one-on-one check-ins
    Continual check-ins and feedback are a must for this. Regular one-on-one sessions are crucial and one must try to expand their reach as much as possible. A biasedness-free one-on-one session helps build trust and create a workspace where employees are allowed to pour their minds and heart out. Employees must be encouraged to open up about their challenges and disappointment, without judging them.

    Taking employees’ feedback regarding the workplace in that session and seeking open suggestions from employees. Together, a team must work on the weaknesses of each other and try to be each other’s strengths.

    Jonathan Tian, Mobitrix

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