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Building an Inclusive Workplace

What does it mean to have an inclusive workplace? Many organisations now have practices in place to promote diversity. Some of these are as a result of changes in attitudes and society as a whole and others  due to recent changes in employment law. Inclusion looks at the acceptance of being equal within an organisation and considers an individual’s sense of feeling valued and accepted, along with having opportunities to develop regardless of characteristics such as: age, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability. In essence, as described by the CIPD “an inclusive workplace enables a diverse range of people to work together effectively”. A study by the CIPD found that inequality is still widespread in the workplace, and a report from Green Park last year reported only 52% of the FTSE 100 organisations have a non-white board or executive committee member. In order to create inclusive working environments, it is important for organisations to recognise that a universal approach to managing diversity is not effective and does not achieve fairness and equality of opportunities. To have an inclusive working environment, organisations’ need to understand everyone is different, and people have varying personal needs, values and beliefs and the team of people is itself unique. The CIPD observe that “good people management practice needs to be consistently fair but also flexible and inclusive to support both individual and business needs”. The main benefits to an organisation of having an inclusive workforce include attracting and retaining talent – (an increasing challenge, especially with the UK’s current skills shortages), market competitiveness; and corporate reputation. Steps to building an inclusive workplace To have a truly inclusive workforce, all employees need to be able to feel themselves at work. The CIPD recognises true inclusion is created by embedding inclusive practices and values into an organisation’s way of doing things, and has identified five key steps to enable an organisation to embed inclusion:
  • Involve all employees in inclusion: organisations should set clear standards on behaviour relating to inclusion and empower employees to challenge behaviour. Employees should understand their role in creating an inclusive workplace and what this means to them.
  • Develop line manager capability: this is a key step as we all have preferences for people ‘like us’ and a big part of the line manager’s role is conducting people management practices, which will impact an employee’s experience and opportunities to develop within an organisation. Line managers should treat all employees equally, supporting development needs and giving them a say in the workplace.
  • Build senior commitment to inclusion: this will set the tone of the organisation’s behaviour and what is expected of the workforce.
  • Evaluate policies and practices regularly: to ensure they promote inclusion across the organisation and meet individual and business needs.
  • Examine organisational culture, climate and values: to ensure the organisation recognises differences within the workforce and includes employees in the decision- making process.  This helps employees to feel valued and engaged and as they have had the opportunity to contribute are more likely to support decisions made.
If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk ©️ Copyright Clover HR
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