8 Simple Ways to Help Create a Diverse, Inclusive Workplace
Use these 8 tips to advocate for diversity and inclusion in your company.
Is your company actively pursuing diversity and inclusion?
If not — or if there’s room to improve — these tips can help you start the conversation and progress current initiatives. Diversity and inclusion benefits everyone, and it’s not just the responsibility of human resources (HR) and executives. We all have a role to play.
What Does Diversity and Inclusion Mean?
Diversity: Understanding, accepting and valuing differences between people, including those:
- of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities and sexual orientations; and
- with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences and knowledge bases.
Inclusion: A collaborative, supportive and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees.
How to Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
1. Up Your “Cultural Competence”
Before attempting to shift your company’s attitudes, start by examining your own knowledge. Become familiar with the most current and appropriate language related to different races, religions, sexual orientations, genders and other backgrounds. Make sure to engage with co-workers who come from those backgrounds, and see what you can learn about their practices and beliefs, as well as the challenges they face.
2. Know and Grow Your Company’s Goals
Maybe your company has articulated goals to encourage and foster diversity and inclusion. If so, get involved and help rally behind these efforts: Join diversity-related initiatives, help out with events and find other ways you can provide support. But if “diversity and inclusion” isn’t part of the conversation, then it’s time to engage HR and company leadership to show your interest in making it a priority. Speak to others throughout the company to see who else is interested. There are a lot of ways to help make this top of mind, including starting a diversity and inclusion council, reviewing hiring practices, sending an employee engagement survey or organizing diversity-related events.
3. Welcome Different Voices
Pay attention to who speaks up on your team and whether anyone’s voice isn’t getting heard. You can speak up and give that person the floor. This can help create an inviting environment where employees can feel empowered to voice their ideas and opinions without interruption or fear.
4. Support Diverse Hiring
Whether or not you’re the one making the staffing decisions, you can make an impact on who gets hired. When your company has open positions, you can recommend candidates from different backgrounds — and if you’re a hiring manager asking others for recommendations, let your team know that you value diverse experiences and thinking.
5. Commit to Small Acts of Inclusivity
Consider the co-workers you chat with between meetings, invite to lunch or send helpful insights. Do they share backgrounds like yours? Challenge yourself to widen your inner circle, and be open to hearing how employees of different religions, races and backgrounds experience the world.
6. Speak Out
Help support zero tolerance of bias and discrimination in the workplace. If you experience or witness it, then it’s your responsibility — and the right thing to do — to report the incident to HR.
7. Listen to Feedback and Keep Improving
Even the most enlightened, “woke” and open-minded individuals have room to grow. And feedback is an important tool for progress. When others give you feedback about ways you can be a better ally or advocate for diversity and inclusion at your company, commit to learning and improving.
8. Practice What You Preach
Effecting change can be challenging, so start by setting your intention and taking a few small yet meaningful steps forward. You may choose to mentor a junior colleague from a different background. You could speak with co-workers about how diversity and inclusion efforts could benefit your workplace. And, quite simply, always treat those around you with respect, professionalism and kindness.
Let’s Continue the Conversation
Read more about how to find a company that shares your values.