Inclusivity: How to Go Beyond Gender Diversity
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While gender diversity has been a key focus area for many companies, all areas of diversity are equally important. In this article, we will explore how companies can go beyond gender diversity and build a culture of inclusivity that embraces all forms of both diversity and people.
Understanding diversity is a critical component of building in inclusive workplace. Diversity encompasses a wide range of characteristics, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and ability. Each of these characteristics represents a unique perspective and experience,as does the people who hold these experiences. To create a diverse workplace, it is therefore not enough that the workforce is simply representative of these different characteristics. All people and experiences need to be listened to and taken into consideration to fully allow different perspectives, this often also leads to more creative and inclusive ideas and processes.
Also, it is in this regard important to recognize that different aspects of diversity intersect and overlap in complex ways. For example, a Black woman may experience discrimination based on both her race and gender, while a disabled LGBTQ+ person may face discrimination based on multiple aspects of their identity. Understanding the complex ways in which different forms of diversity intersect is essential in creating an inclusive workplace that values and supports all employees.
Biases and discrimination
’In order to truly create an inclusive workplace, it’s also essential to understand the impact of systemic bias and discrimination on marginalized groups. This includes acknowledging the ways in which systemic racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination have shaped our society, and actively working to counteract those biases in the workplace. Recognizing these biases both within the individual employee/manager and inside the company is essential to be able to move beyond surface level additions and to an actual diverse and inclusive workplace. ’In order to foster a workplace culture that is truly inclusive of all forms of diversity, it’s essential to create policies, practices, and norms that value and respect everyone. This includes creating a workplace environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and bias, and actively working to counteract those negative influences, both personally and within the organisation. By embracing diversity and creating a culture of inclusivity, companies can unlock the full potential of their employees and create a more innovative, productive, and successful workplace.
Going Beyond Gender Diversity
While gender diversity is an important aspect of inclusivity, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other forms of diversity that companies should consider:
1. Race and Ethnicity
Companies should strive to create a workplace that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve. This includes hiring and promoting people of color, as well as creating a culture that values and respects different cultures and backgrounds.
Age diversity is important, as it brings a wealth of experience and perspective to the workplace. Companies should be mindful of ageism and avoid making assumptions about someone's abilities or interests based on their age, both considering older and younger employees.
Religious diversity is an important aspect of inclusivity. Companies should respect their employees' religious beliefs and practices, and provide accommodations as needed.
4. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
LGBTQ+ employees deserve to feel welcome and included in the workplace. Companies should have policies that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and create an environment that is supportive of all employees.
Companies should be inclusive of employees with disabilities. This includes providing accommodations such as wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and closed captioning, as well as creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive.
Please note that this list is not conclusive, but rather a cursory overview.
Creating a Culture of Inclusivity
In order to truly embrace diversity and create an inclusive workplace culture, companies must be intentional in their efforts. Here are some steps that companies can take to create a culture of inclusivity:
1. Educate Employees
One of the first steps in creating an inclusive workplace is to educate employees about diversity and inclusion. This can include workshops, training sessions, and guest speakers who can help employees better understand different perspectives and experiences. Other than learning, this also has the aim to foster an environment where diversity and inclusion is a topic that can be talked about freely and openly.
2. Foster Open Communication
Companies should create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, even if they differ from the mainstream. This can include creating open-door policies, hosting town hall meetings, and soliciting feedback from employees. Be aware that employees that belong to a minority often have a harder time speaking up (particularly in open, public spaces) and make it possible for everyone to voice their opinions in a safe and welcoming manner.
3. Promote Diversity in Hiring and Promotion
Companies should strive to hire and promote employees from diverse backgrounds. This includes actively seeking out candidates from underrepresented groups, as well as creating a culture that values diversity and inclusion. To make this possible, a diverse hiring group is essential. As humans, we tend to like and prefer people with the same background as ours (culturally, educationally, etc.). A hiring team that represents many kinds of people will therefore have higher chance of hiring people that belong to a minority.
4. Provide Accommodations
Companies should provide accommodations for employees with disabilities, as well as other accommodations as needed (such as religious accommodations or accommodations for nursing mothers). This can help ensure that all employees can fully participate in the workplace.
5. Celebrate Differences
Finally, companies should celebrate the differences between employees, rather than trying to homogenize everyone. This can include celebrating different cultural holidays, hosting diversity-themed events, and creating employee resource groups that focus on different aspects of diversity.
In conclusion, building a workplace culture that is inclusive of all forms of diversity is essential for creating a successful and productive workplace. While gender diversity is an important aspect of inclusivity, companies must go beyond this and embrace other forms of diversity such as race, age, religion, sexual orientation, and ability. To achieve this, companies must be intentional in their efforts and take concrete steps toward creating a culture of inclusivity.
This includes educating employees about the importance of diversity and inclusion, fostering open communication, promoting diversity in hiring and promotion, providing accommodations, and celebrating differences. By doing so, companies can create a workplace environment that values and respects all employees and ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Furthermore, by embracing diversity and creating an inclusive workplace culture, companies can unlock the full potential of their employees. A diverse and inclusive workforce brings a wealth of different perspectives and experiences, which can lead to more innovative and creative solutions. In addition, creating an inclusive workplace can lead to higher employee morale, reduced turnover, and increased productivity.
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In conclusion, inclusivity is not just a moral imperative, it is also a business imperative. By embracing diversity and creating a culture of inclusivity, companies can create a workplace that is welcoming to all employees and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Please contact us to learn how you can build a diverse and inclusive organization.