My top tips to build diversity & inclusion in your workplace

Over the past 3 weeks I have been privileged to participate in 3 diversity & inclusion conferences in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. One of the key messages from the wide array of speakers has been that to make real progress in harnessing the benefits of workforce diversity to increase performance, we need to focus on creating an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive and do their best work. This is much easier said than done, however the best starting point is to develop a vision of what inclusion looks and feels like.

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I like the Diversity Council of Australia research that found when people from different ages, cultural backgrounds and genders experience inclusion they need to feel 3 things:

  1. that their uniqueness is valued and respected (by peers and leaders)

  2. that they have access to opportunities and resources – “a fair go”

  3. that they feel safe to speak up and contribute ideas to help solve the complex problems we are facing in today’s world.

To help you build a culture where everyone feels included, I’d like to share with you my top 5 tips to build an inclusive culture in your diverse workplace.

1. Consciously include people or you will unconsciously exclude them

The evidence is clear – only by focusing on including everyone, testing our assumptions, and continually applying an inclusion lens to the way we work and make decisions, can we create change – the key is personal action, that includes individually welcoming, including and mentoring people different from yourself.

2. Educate yourself on the business problem that needs solving to deliver equity for all

Personally seek out or gather data to help you fully understand the issues, and listen with an open mind and heart to the stories from a range of your diverse colleagues describing lived experiences of exclusion and inclusion.

3. Adopt a diversity capability mindset rather than a risk or compliance mindset

Rather than educating staff about what they are not allowed to do, smart employers are equipping leaders and staff with a positive capability mindset, knowledge, skills and behaviour to help them  take action to create inclusive teams and organisations

4. Accept we all have biases, identify and mitigate yours, and challenge the status quo by speaking up about bias when you see it

Unconscious bias research shows the human brain is hardwired to see difference as danger. This means despite us all being more similar than different, we notice people’s differences first and develop negative associations, forgetting their positive contributions and unintentionally excluding.

5. Its personal - be a culture ‘steward’ and consciously model respect and inclusion

As David Morrison, former Chief of Army famously states in his You Tube video to all staff ; “The standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept”.  Leaders set the tone of the culture, and team members have a responsibility to take action when they see exclusion happening.

That's it! 5 easily implemented ways to build diversity and inclusion in your workplace, today!

If you'd like to learn more about how to create inclusive environments for everyone, download a free copy of our simple new D & I Generational framework here!