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Beyond Pride: Building an Inclusive Workplace in 2021

As June ends and Pride Month celebrations are being held around the world, let us start thinking about how to extend the spirit of Pride Month and embrace the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Fostering an inclusive workplace is essential for leaders, and that is why I wanted to share with you my top 5 tips for building a more inclusive workplace as a valuable opportunity to support diversity.

But first, what does an inclusive workplace look like?

In my opinion, in an inclusive workplace you feel at home and appreciate each other’s differences rather than seeing them as a nuisance. Companies that have truly inclusive workplaces often pride themselves on their encouragement towards diversity, as this is rooted in their corporate culture.

It’s a no-brainer that diversity makes for a stronger workforce. But diversity isn’t the same as inclusivity. When companies value and embrace employees of different backgrounds into an inclusive workplace, they not only reap the rewards in creativity and innovation but also help society move to a more equal place.

Think of inclusivity as the next step to successfully supporting a diverse workforce: It’s all about creating an environment that welcomes and includes each person.

So, if you are ready to launch your inclusivity initiatives, here are 5 tips to get your company started:

1. Know what matters most to your employees.

Inclusion starts with asking your workers what they care about. You may be surprised at how straightforward some of their desires could be. Once you know this, it will be easier for your C-level executives to get the ball rolling.

2. Understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

You will need a flexible approach to make everyone feel they belong. And more importantly, don’t assume or make choices on what ‘’makes sense.’’ Open the conversation to a wider diverse group to decrease the possibility of being biased.

3. Create an inclusive workplace task force.

Think about the key players whose input could help bring your organization’s inclusivity culture to life. They should be people who are passionate about inclusivity and will put in the effort to realize the vision.

Be sure the task force itself is diverse, representing not only varying social demographics, but also office location and job function.

4. Emphasize inclusivity in diversity training.

You know that diversity and inclusivity aren’t the same thing, but do your employees? It’s possible to have a diverse workplace that isn’t inclusive. Minority employees, though present, may feel excluded or that they aren’t represented in the workplace culture. Raise awareness of that nuance explicitly in training so that employees can fully embrace the diversity around them and develop the soft skills to thrive in a diverse environment.

For example, you could start by modelling inclusive language. Learn and use the preferred pronouns of your team members. Our natural perception can be wrong, and by simply asking, we can make others feel more welcome and at home.

5. Create safe spaces.

Encourage a culture when regular 1-on-1s aren’t just for providing in-the-moment feedback. They’re also opportunities to build trust. And trust is key for the open dialogue that allows employees to honestly express their needs or discuss challenges they may be experiencing in your workplace.

Silence is not an option. Happy Pride Month!

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