Four key steps to address inclusion in the workplace

Written by Simon Benford-Blows

  1. Hire for merit and intellectual diversity — don’t overemphasize culture fit

Inclusion begins at the first stage in the hiring process: resumes and cover letters.

Hiring managers must find a way to evaluate the whole person and push past the tendency to hire those who are culturally familiar.

Diversity hiring is hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures have reduced biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance.

To increase your diversity hiring, take the following 6 steps:

Step 1: Conduct a diversity hiring audit on your current hiring process

Step 2: Pick one metric to improve your diversity hiring

Step 3: Increase your diversity hiring in your candidate sourcing

Step 4: Increase your diversity hiring in your candidate screening

Step 5: Increase your diversity hiring in your candidate shortlisting

Step 6: Evaluate your diversity hiring metrics


  1. Cultivate inclusive leadership

It’s not enough to invite someone into your business. They need a seat at the table and must be an active participant in the conversation. Leadership sets this tone.

You want to create a space where your team members feel they can bring their “full selves” to work. This means that neurodiversity is welcome and that no one has to code-switch (the practice of changing your behaviour as you move among groups to be accepted).

Studies have found that leaders who have elements of acquired diversity (cultural fluency, generational savviness, a global mindset, etc.) are much more likely to behave inclusively than leaders who don’t. Team members with open-minded leaders who display both acquired diversity and inherent diversity (gender, race, age, religious background, etc.) report a greater likelihood their ideas win endorsement from decision-makers, be developed or prototyped, and be deployed in the marketplace. According to employers, these teams are more likely to be unafraid of failing, taking risks and challenging the status quo.

If you’re to take DE&I seriously, your team leaders must be well versed in the philosophy of inclusion to understand its best practices and implement them properly.


  1. Encourage input at all levels of your organisation

Many reviews conducted with employees across business find Companies aren’t doing enough to make their employees feel included. Employees expressed negative sentiments on equality, openness and belonging — the three components of inclusion.

Managers and Execs need training and here are a few ways to improve this dynamic throughout your organization:

Step 1: Rotate team assignments, and fairly distribute responsibilities to counteract natural in-group formation around gender, race, tenure, alumni networks and other salient factors.

Step 2: Strive to make every member of the team an inclusion expert, and actively seek out a range of opinions on how to make the workplace more inclusive.

Step 3: Invite influencers with diverse backgrounds to speak to your team, and spearhead specialised professional associations and workshops that match each person’s needs.

Step 4: Be honest about what’s going right and what must be adjusted. Avoid blame and keep the conversation solution-oriented.

Step 5: You can’t simply talk about the benefits of inclusion. You must inhabit those values in every organisational decision you make.


  1. Set goals and track the results — and be agile in your execution

The best strategy is an agile one. You must rapidly and continuously update your approach to your DE&I initiatives as data provides fresh insights.

Here are four ways to adhere to the principles of agile management as you create a more diverse, equal and inclusive workplace:

  • Keep the goals simple and clear so everyone on the team knows where you’re headed. Stress that this adds value to the workplace culture and isn’t just another company goal.
  • Allow team members an opportunity to find their niche within the company and provide the tools they need to succeed. This emphasizes individuals and interactions over processes.
  • Hold weekly meetings with DE&I project leaders to assess progress, realign strategy and reprioritise goals as needed. Keep reinforcing team collaboration and cooperation over individual achievement.
  • Regularly track employee experiences with pulse surveys to see the progress you’ve made (and where you’ve gone astray).
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, which is why agile management is key. If you take such an approach, you will adapt and constantly improve your performance.

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