Best business practices for a more inclusive workspace in 2023
2023 has opened onto the scene and has already brought with it surprising changes. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of inclusivity in the workspace and the momentum the inclusivity movement has gained in the last 3-5 years in many corporate spheres. Workplace inclusivity has not always been a forefront value for many organizations.
On the contrary – for many parts of the economic landscape, inclusive workplaces are only beginning to become more common. If your organization doesn’t already have a robust inclusivity framework in place and you want to use 2023 to change that, there are a number of steps you can take to increase your workplace’s level of inclusivity. You can help influence this process whether you are a high-level manager or a recent arrival.
Here are some of the best ways to make your workspace more inclusive during 2023.
Update Your Organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy
If you (or your teammates) haven’t heard of a CSR policy, that’s a great place to start. The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) can sound a little bit vague, but it refers to a relatively specific dynamic that comes into play in corporate, for-profit, and organizational spaces of many kinds. CSR refers to an organization’s commitment to various topics or areas that have to do with “social good.”
CSR policies usually include documents or statements created by an organization that articulates how that organization plans to contribute to advancing their CSR area(s) of choice. Many companies commit budget lines to CSR priority areas they are interested in propelling. Others might offer volunteering opportunities, organize an annual or quarterly event to do with CSR work, or build out incentive plans to encourage their employees to get involved.
If you aren’t aware of a CSR plan at your organization, creating or updating your CSR plan can be a fantastic place to start. If you are a decision maker or manager within your company, this should be something you could instigate right away. And even if you’re not a management-level employee for your company, you often have more leverage and leeway than you might think.
Initiate Safe Inclusion Conversations with Your Employees or Teammates
Sometimes the most successful introduction to fostering more inclusion in your workplace can also be the simplest. Too often, well-intentioned programs or initiatives fall flat because there wasn’t enough understanding, buy-in, or urgency on the part of the organization at large to sustain the effort.
Inclusion can oftentimes be an intimidating topic for people who haven’t been exposed to it before. Many feel like they don’t have the vocabulary for a discussion or are worried that they’ll offend someone or be offended. Make open, safe spaces available for your people to ask questions and discuss inclusion topics.
Add a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager or Committee to Your Workplace
This step is a bit easier to oversee if you are in a management or leadership position. However, this is a measure you could advocate for no matter what your role is where you work. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, you might benefit from a full-time DEI manager or, alternatively, choose to elect or establish a DEI committee within your team or workforce.
A DEI manager or committee can help oversee the process of making your workplace more inviting and inclusive. For organizations that are relatively homogeneous and want to work towards increasing their diversity, this can often be a confusing or mystifying process. And for organizations that might have mixed ideas of how to prioritize diversity, it can often be important to create events, workshops, or forum spaces where these ideas can be brought to light and discussed in positive ways.
Scrutinize Your Hiring Process
Inclusion touches many parts of how your organization or business operates. It can be improved completely internally without ever adjusting how you hire or add team members to your company. However, if hiring practice is never examined for weaknesses and biases, your inclusion efforts can ever only go so far.
Every hiring process is riddled with limitations. Some of those are inherent; some will never be fully corrected; but many others could be diminished or even mitigated through thoughtful improvement. Changing your hiring protocol to be more inclusion-forward does not create change right away.
To make your hiring process more inclusive, evaluate each part of the hiring process. This ranges from the ads you post to the orientation process of your new hires experience. Try to look at each element with fresh eyes and perspective.
How might someone else, who belongs to a very different set of demographics, read that listing or engage with the interview process? Does the job post use language that might alienate certain individuals or discourage some people from applying?
To make sure your hiring process is robustly inclusive, it’s important to get more than your own perspective. It takes different sets of eyes and other points of view to notice problems in your blind spots. Have your DEI manager or committee evaluate the process. Ask recently hired employees about their experiences. Invite mentors, professionals in your network, or members of hiring processes in other entities to comment or give feedback on what they see.
Never Stop Learning
Finally, inclusion is an ongoing and dynamic process that extends beyond one-time actions such as sending out an email or holding an inclusion event. It’s essential to recognize that creating a truly inclusive company requires continuous effort and dedication. Additionally, it’s crucial to understand that inclusivity encompasses not only diversity and equity but also the well-being and mental health of employees. By acknowledging the importance of employee mental health and committing to ongoing learning and improvement, you can foster an inclusive workplace culture that supports the holistic well-being of your team.