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Most of us spend most of our time at work, it’s natural to want to feel like we are included and belong in those working environments. Many companies have Diversity and Inclusion working groups, councils, or initiatives to attempt to create a more inclusive workplace. But often the ways inclusion is approached is a lot of “why” and not a lot of “how”.

Understandably so. Nobody likes to be told they are leaving people out or not being welcoming. But true inclusion at work requires a conscious and consistent effort. It can be difficult to feel uncomfortable, own up to mistakes, and spend time and energy trying to improve.

But if you want to build a truly inclusive workplace, there are some areas where you can start:

1. Do an inclusivity audit

Doing an inclusivity audit will give you an accurate reading of where you company is at the moment. The ideal way to do an inclusivity audit is to work with a neutral third party who can make honest assessments and share candid feedback. Conducting inclusivity audits in-house means that the potential for bias is high, and employees with an emotional stake in the outcome of the audit may overlook some red flags.

Things that an inclusivity audit will look out for are:

  • Data about the make up of your company
  • Information about career progression for employees
  • Sentiment and feelings of your workforce surrounding inclusivity
  • Anecdotal evidence of times a company has or has not practiced inclusivity

2. Highlight “low hanging fruit” inclusion opportunities

Revamping the entire company hiring and promotion process, or the business’ pay structure can be a very involved task that can take months to complete, and will require buy in at all levels across the company. Attempting to tackle the big picture problems of inclusivity at your company is noble, but it can be beneficial to start small and fix the easy things first.

Some examples of “low hanging fruit” inclusion opportunities are:

  • Take it in turns for each member of a team to chair a regular meeting – this is one way to ensure a variety of voices are being heard.
  • Practice “blind hiring” during initial candidate screenings and remove names, universities, years, or any other identifiable information from resumes before sharing with the hiring manager. Often our unconscious biases will tell us to favor a candidate who is similar to us, and by removing these details you are levelling the playing field.
  • Put budget behind diversity initiatives. Showing a true commitment to inclusion can manifest itself in the way you support your team members. Giving the LGBTQ+ committee a small budget to host a film screening, or the Carers Network room to throw a pizza party shows that you are fully committed to making your employees feel like they belong.
  • Improving accessibility of your internal communications

3. Make a plan for the future

Short term measures aren’t sustainable or valuable if you are trying to build a truly inclusive workplace. Meaningful inclusion happens when the company has build systems that prioritize the belonging and purpose of every employee.

Making sure that you are setting yourself medium and long term inclusion goals is a good way to show your team members that you’re genuinely committed. Some goals that you could include in your long term planning are:

  • An equal gender split across all senior positions
  • Increase the representation of non-white employees at all levels
  • A reevaluation of compensation across all levels, with a special focus on inclusion and equality
  • Forming an Inclusion working group to tackle issues and share feedback on inclusion initiatives