Inclusivity benefits a business

By Liz Owers, MAD-HR

Remember what it felt like to be that person in the playground who was picked last for the team, didn’t feel they could reveal their true self or spent their academic or early employment years feeling ‘outside’ of the popular circle?

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Autumn|Winter 2022

Human Resources: MAD-HR

To a large extent, that’s the epitome of inclusivity reversed.

And sadly, however popular the use of the word ‘inclusive’ has become in cultural narrative, it’s still the case that too many businesses and leaders are unclear as to how they create a work environment that’s genuinely welcoming, unbiased, and open to all differences of persona and thought.

Perhaps the best place to start this debate is why it even matters to an organisation to embrace inclusivity.

Far from being a ‘tick box’ exercise to show a willingness to comply with a more contemporary social rhetoric, taking a stance toward inclusivity can have no end of benefits to a business.

Inclusive work cultures undoubtedly generate more opinions, perspectives and innovative considerations.

Those who live and breathe inclusivity are not only more likely to recruit a broad diversity of talent, they are much more likely to retain it.

Such work cultures also tend to take a healthier approach to assist staff in living their professional lives in a way that suits the individual and the collective.

They’re likely to be more in tune with the need for some to work remotely, for others to work flexibly, for some to maintain cultural or volunteering needs, or for family-focused commitments.

Nevertheless, as with any development of a sound and sustainable company culture, much shared investment must be made.

Managers have a critical role to play

Managers are critical to instilling inclusivity in the workplace.

They must lead from the front in terms of how they outline corporate policies on inclusivity, how they interact with their team members, how they deliver and insist upon training, and how they approach all aspects of recruitment, retention and promotion potential.

It is upon the shoulders of all senior leaders to truly reflect upon their practices, mindful of where this relates to inclusivity.

On a day-to-day basis, that might include:

  • Championing and sponsoring inclusivity activities (those internal to the business and those happening in the community)
  • Developing awareness of bias and behaviours in the workplace
  • Providing a role model persona in how they adopt inclusive thinking
  • Addressing diversity within the boardroom and on various panels, teams, boards and groups which exist within the business
  • Encouraging a voice on all diversity issues among the staff and ensuring a feedback cycle that is accessible to all
  • Having policies and practices which allow all employees to understand expected conduct and to know what would happen to those who act disrespectfully of such policies

Developing a truly inclusive culture within a company – particularly one that is long established and may be made up of many generations of staff – does not come without significant effort.

However, with the right commitment and resources, it reaps the rewards for all.

Inclusivity benefits a business 1

Liz Owers is Head of Client Services at MAD-HR

T:  01603 791256  
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