Developing Inclusivity

By Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions
Creating an inclusive workplace generates many benefits. It contributes toward a positive atmosphere, where people feel heard and appreciated. Opinions should be considered equally regardless of gender, ethnicity, or culture. It allows the expression of individuality and embraces peoples’ traits and qualities.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Autumn|Winter 2022

Sharing Experience: Kevin Ward, Conatus Financing Solutions

By doing this, everyone will feel more motivated, supported, and confident to contribute ideas, boosting morale, innovation, and productivity.

So, how can you move in the right direction? A good place to start is to ask everyone in the business how valued they feel and what you could do to improve their working life. Don’t be offended if things aren’t as rosy as you thought, but instead, embrace the identification of issues as a starting point to implementing change. Communicate ideas with staff and ask them to work with you to set measurable goals for improvement. Encourage staff to speak up if they don’t feel welcome or included. This is not a one-off exercise that can be ticked off a list and then ignored. It’s about regularly reviewing and identifying areas for improvement and striving towards implementing these.

Interactive training exercises can be fun and teach people how to show gratitude and acceptance of their colleagues. By creating the right culture, others will understand the behaviours that are expected of them. Consider having a small task force responsible for improving inclusivity practices. HR expertise is also important in ensuring that policies require acceptance of each other, such as making documents gender neutral and preventing discriminatory behaviours. If these skills don’t exist, then seek advice externally.

Make the best of what you have

Make the best of the space that you have. Is it accessible for those with disabilities? Can you accommodate a quiet space for those who don’t work well in busier collaborative workspaces? Is there an area that could be used for prayer if required? Is a private space for nursing mothers who have returned to work needed? Could you have gender-neutral bathrooms? Considering these issues and doing what you can to accommodate them, shows that you value staff and their values and beliefs. Where that space isn’t available, at least acknowledge that you would like to help and talk through alternative ideas and compromises.

Ensure that staff doing the same role are on equal pay, benefits, and contractual terms. This helps people to feel valued compared to their colleagues. Gender, race, religion, or disability should not impact this. Establish a dress code that is acceptable to everyone and sensitive to religious beliefs. Celebrate religious holidays relevant to your team members and if you are catering for staff, think about dietary and religious needs so that nobody is left out.

Our use of language is important too. Are you calling people by their preferred pronouns and using non-discriminatory terms of gender or race? For example, a salesman doesn’t represent females, and a blacklist can be offensive to minority groups. If English is a second language, providing printed meeting notes in advance allows any information to be reviewed in a non-pressured way.

Inclusivity is a complex objective, but by adopting it as a core value, everyone in your business wins.

Developing Inclusivity 1

Kevin Ward is Director at Conatus Financing Solutions

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