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How to create an inclusive workplace

We recently spoke about gender imbalance in the workplace and in particular about the need to close the gender pay gap. Being proactive about this is one way to promote your organisation as an inclusive one – an organisation that welcomes and affirms diversity.

It's important to recognise the other factors affecting your organisation when it comes to inclusion and diversity. Before we address this ask yourself, 'Does my organisation have a clear understanding of what inclusion means, not just in theory, also in practice?'

Creating an inclusive workplace is not a box ticking exercise. It's not just about ensuring that minority groups are represented equally; it's actually about how we see people.

Inclusion has laterally tended to replace the word integration, and for good reason. When I think of integration I think of fridges. An integrated fridge is one that is made to look like the rest of your kitchen. To take this metaphor further then an inclusive (or included) fridge is simply its own appliance. It does not have to conform in any way to the rest of the kitchen. It is proud of its individual fridge status and is respected as such.

True inclusion is about embracing the richness and diversity of the human condition. It's about examining what practices or procedures are currently in place (either consciously or inadvertently created) that may be a barrier to inclusion.

Inclusion is about busting dated beliefs, it is sometimes about moving from a place of ignorance (often closely connected to fear) to a place of openness and understanding. In practice this is about looking back on decisions made and judgements taken that may have contributed to the workplace being less than fully inclusive.

An inclusive organisation is one that doesn't first create policies and procedures and then think, 'Oh, how do we adopt this to include people from minority groups?'; it is one that considers all groups at the point of creating the policy or procedure.

What does an inclusive workplace mean to your organisation? Start the discussion today!

Posted on Thu, October 09, 2014 in Organisational Development
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