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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in an Office Setting

By: Athena Alexander

An inclusive, accepting, and diverse work environment is a necessary component to a harmonious and successful office. Feeling welcome in an office, especially when starting a new position, is important to ensure that employees continue to stay focused and work together to complete tasks.

Inclusivity and diversity are connected but have very different definitions. Inclusivity is

a state of being valued, respected, and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of each individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their full potential. Inclusivity supports diversity, defined as a dimension used to differentiate groups and people from one another, and implies respect for and appreciation of these differences. It includes traits such as race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, religion, and disabilities. It can also include external circumstances such as geographic origin and cultural background. Inclusivity and diversity complement each other in fostering a thriving workplace environment.

Benefits of an Inclusive and Diverse Office

Employers must understand that to grow their businesses, employees must feel actively involved and appreciated. Research shows that more inclusive and diverse offices have higher revenue growth, greater eagerness to jump on new projects, higher levels of recruitment, and longer employee retention.

  • Valued employees work hard and have a longer retention

Those that feel included and have confidence that they will be treated equally tend to be more engaged in their work, look forward to coming to work, and stay at their jobs for a longer.

Red Flags in the Office

It is important to know whether an office is inclusive or not before committing to a role. Whether it is an interview or a first week, here are five signs of an office that is lacking inclusive and diversity factors.

  • The company makes its efforts just about the numbers

    • The diversity initiatives are driven by the company hitting a certain number of diverse employees set by company guidelines instead of creating an inclusive environment

  • The company makes its efforts all about race

    • Diversity of all sorts is represented in addition to race. Employees have representation with a range of age, religion, experiences, socio-economic backgrounds, etc.

  • Diversity and inclusion are not well-defined

    • The business should have a clear mission statement that is displayed, accepted, and understood in the workplace.

  • There is diversity but there is exclusion

    • Diversity cannot exist if there is exclusion. No one should be left out due to circumstances that make them who they are.

  • The leaders at the top all look the same

    • If you look around an office and see the same people grow more in the company than others with an equal level of skill, this is a sign that there may be a hierarchy within the business.

Ways to Make the Office More Inclusive

Forbes recommends seven ways to make an office more inclusive:

1) Equalize access to resources:

Equal access to resources is necessary to support an inclusive office. Resources such as accommodations to familial circumstances, financial assistance and flexible work hours would make an employee feel more valued and considered in an office.

2) Give your employees a voice:

Employees must feel as though they have some input into their work. This inclusion could be achieved by focus groups led by the employees, open conversations about acceptable or unacceptable topics, etc.

3) Accept employees for who they are:

Individuals must feel as though they are connected by a common goal. Have conversations with workers and explain why they are valued and their achievements both in professional and appropriate personal ones as well.

4) Give opportunitiy to learn and develop:

Employees must feel as though they can learn and grow through the company. Offer employees the opportunity to expand their personal and professional goals.

5) Foster a collaborative environment:

When a team connects, they work together to create the best work. Ask what others think during meetings and give credit when credit is due.

6) Intentionally focus on inclusive practices:

Promote diverse ideas and perspectives and take action. Ask the right questions and make an effort to see all possible viewpoints before making a decision.

7) Create a sense of belonging:

Make the inclusion efforts exciting! Plan fun activities that get workers eager to come to work. Implement these efforts in company meetings, events, and even hallway passes.

Applying these tips to your work environment will only make your office life more enjoyable and productive. In the end, everyone will feel more included and more motivated to continue to work hard and do their best!


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