It should be a primary goal of modern businesses to target inclusivity in their workplaces. A business owner shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that people of all demographics, cultures, and abilities have what they need to feel safe, included, and equal at work.
But what does inclusivity look like in the workplace? How can you create an inclusive workplace culture that allows everyone the same rights and benefits? Consider these actionable steps to create an environment that meets each and of your employee’s needs.
1. Evaluate ADA compliance regularly
Each new year's start is the perfect time to complete a thorough walkthrough of the office and review your policies to ensure compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The ADA mandates equality in employment and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
Although you may have brought your workplace up to ADA standards several years ago, it’s a good idea to reevaluate it regularly to determine if there’s room for improvement. Do you have ADA compliant signs, accessible office and meeting spaces, and communication accommodations? Other accommodations, like modified work schedules and fair promotion practices, are necessary benefits for people with disabilities.
2. Design an inclusion training program
Your workplace culture can only be as inclusive as your staff is, meaning that everyone needs to be on the same page regarding diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. An inclusion training program for current and future staff could be the key to clinching an environment of equality and respect.
In your program, don’t just include points where your workplace falls short, but also further education on its strengths. Leave your program open for expansion to include more information as time passes. Consider hiring a diversity and inclusion professional to take the lead in designing your program or utilizing existing programs available for corporations.
3. Establish a foundation of inclusive language and behaviors
Inclusive language ensures that no person or group of people in the workplace feels unequal or excluded. Inclusive language starts with the person or people in charge of a company. Employees may model the behavior they see in their superiors, making it crucial to be a positive leader in this area.
With time and practice, using unbiased language and welcoming behaviors in the workplace will become second nature. Still, there is always room for learning and improving.
Create a culture that welcomes teachable moments by making workers feel safe and validated talking about language and behaviors they find offensive. Check in with employees regularly to gauge their comfort level and satisfaction with their jobs and workplace. In doing so, you’ll build strong relationships that are important and impressionable, professionally and personally.
4. Give employees safe and accessible spaces
Every staff member has a unique set of needs that the workplace should address to the best of its ability. The process starts with accessible staff areas, like staff rooms, parking lots, restrooms, eating spaces, entrances, and exits. Ensure that every staff member can access these areas equally and safely.
Technology also needs to be accessible. Ask employees what technology they need to fulfill their job duties. Accessible telecommunication equipment and software, captioned videos, and screen readers might be examples.
Finally, move beyond basic expectations for your staff. You might consider adding a staff room designed for meditation or reducing sensory stimulation. Be open to staff using the office in ways that work best for them, like allowing them to control lighting and sound.
5. Reward hard work
Your staff’s abilities make your workplace thrive, and rewarding their hard work is crucial to keeping up the momentum. Ensure that your processes for promotions and bonuses are fair for every employee.
Each employee should have equal access to the training, benefits, and advancement opportunities your company offers. There may be challenges that come along with some promotions, but your dedication to finding a solution will grow your workplace culture into one that’s welcoming, unbiased, and equitable.
Making changes in the workplace is non-negotiable for true inclusivity. Gather feedback from your employees to guide your changes and transform your workplace into one that caters to all.