How to create a diverse and inclusive working environment

It’s safe to say this is at the forefront of all of our minds. The world is ever changing, technology continues to evolve but people also evolve with it.

We all know we SHOULD be inclusive, but perhaps we are not, and maybe that’s down to lack of awareness of our responsibilities. So, today, I want to share my top tips on creating an inclusive working environment.

1. What is diversity an inclusion?

Diversity refers to differences in people including the differences in race, ethnicity, marital status, gender, etc., and goes even further to considering the different life experiences and circumstances of people. But diversity really means nothing with the concept of inclusion. Inclusion allows all types of people to be celebrated, recognised and INCLUDED. So, inclusion in the workplace means to actively and consciously go out and attract all types of people to be part of your workforce.

2. Recruitment

What specifics do you look for when hiring candidates? Do you state ‘preferred degree holder’ or ‘preferred law experience’ for say, an admin assistant? The laws around HR and employment say that this both unlawful and unethical because is a law degree essential for this role? This flamboyant and unjustified desire of law experience and a degree mean that you lose the talent of those who have comprehensive experience and skills in the administration field (with no law experience or degree), and this really does an injustice to your organisation. Assess the role you are hiring for and create an appropriate advert considering the role responsibilities.

Another element to think about is where you are recruiting. Use methods that allow all relevant candidates to apply. For example, if you are recruiting via a local agency, then be mindful that the potential candidates you receive will be only from the surrounding locality. It completely dismisses the talent sitting just outside of the agency’s catchment area- that’s a huge loss of possible talent.

Last, but certainly not least, think about adverting roles in charity organisation to access a hard-to-reach community.

3. Policies and procedures

Use language that is inclusive, i.e. language that speaks to all. Does your policy allow room for mums, or does it speak to people of all religions? Use words like ‘equal opportunities’ and avoid using social stereotypes such as ‘women should not lift heavy equipment and should ask a male colleague to help’- if this sounds like prejudice to you then you’d be correct.

4. Highlighting key dates

Despite the demographics of your workforce, you should get into the habit of celebrating key dates. Openly talk about religious celebrations such as Eid (Islam) and Hannaka (Jewish). But don’t stop there – there are national and international events to raise awareness on such as World Diabetes Day and Black History Month. Talk about what these mean and allow for people to share stories (if they feel comfortable in doing so).

5. Education

Bring in the HR and Diversity and Inclusion Specialists to talk about unconscious bias – it is a concept not all of us are aware of and refers to a behaviour that groups people in categories which is done outside of their conscious awareness. It is something almost all of us are guilty of but it takes an expert to open our minds on when we might be guilty of this. This allows your team members to consciously be aware of their language and behaviour around each other.

6. Social events

Team building exercises are not just there for fun – they create opportunities for staff to get to know the backgrounds of each other. People of all races and religions can really get to know each other’s personalities which directly contributes to teamwork on projects. Different experiences of life mean that all of us have different ways of dealing with work, family and personal matters. These different approaches to life mean that each staff member will have a different to work, such as problem-solving techniques. This is your key to success – your key to delivering targets by allowing all staff to contribute.

7. Supply chain analysis

Who are your partners and suppliers? Do they range in geographics, or do you stick to your local area only? While it’s great to support local businesses we should also endeavour to contribute to our economy. Develop relationships with businesses outside of your local area, those run by ethnic minorities and those who share a similar mission to you.

8. Stakeholder management

With all, it is vital to understand that all stakeholders should play a leading part in your mission of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Company culture comes from the top down – make arrangements for awareness programmes around these global issues on discrimination.

We must all collectively contribute to an equal and safe working environment.

Tina Rahman
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Tina Rahman

A CIPD accredited (internationally recognised) Human Resources & EDI Consultant (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) and 1 of 500 FIR Ambassadors in the UK (Fairness, Inclusion & Respect). With over 10 years’ experience, naturally I have come across many horrific stories of what goes on in businesses. Stories that make you lose sleep at night, stories around inequality towards women, or discrimination towards people of all backgrounds, races & unfair treatment, etc. Sadly, these are all very much still a taboo. So, I knew I needed to do more by adding the 'human' back into Human Resources. Tina shares a lot of valuable information via her Instagram channel: @hr.habitat