Wednesday 10 March 2021

Inclusivity in the workplace

Inclusivity covers a wealth of issues in the workplace to ensure that all staff aren’t excluded based on their race, class, age, sexuality, disability or gender. As human beings, we are naturally social creatures and we need to feel a sense of belonging, even at work. Exclusion, which is also classed as a form of bullying, can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Types of exclusion

  • Social exclusion can take the form of organising activities inside or outside of work which not all employees are able to take part in for a variety of reasons. Or it might be something as simple as not allowing someone to join in a conversation at lunch time.
  • Offering praise only to certain individuals.
  • Gossiping.
  • Offering opportunities such as training courses and promotions, or even pay rises, to only a select group of people or one individual.
  • Ignoring someone’s opinions or ideas in a meeting for example and not allowing them to have a voice in the company.
  • Repeatedly giving unwanted tasks to one person or overloading them with work.
  • Not allowing employees access to the same or essential resources.

While some instances of exclusion are blatantly deliberate others may be unintentional, but the outcome can be equally as damaging to the person who is feeling excluded.

The impact of exclusion

Owing to the effects of exclusion, prolonged stress can increase the levels of cortisol in the body and lower the immune system which may result in a number of physical problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Some of the effects of exclusion on mental wellbeing can include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Reduced quality of sleep
  • Anger
  • Low self-esteem

Ways to make the workplace more inclusive

In a study undertaken by Harvard Business Review, it was found that not only does inclusivity provide employees with a sense of belonging, but workplace exclusion also “generates hefty financial losses”. So, as well as benefitting the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, making the workplace more inclusive is also conducive for business.

If you want to ensure your workplace is inclusive, here are some tips for getting started.

  • Do your research about any differences that your staff might have and be open minded. 
  • One to one meetings – ask if there is anything that your staff need to carry out their job effectively and provide any necessary resources. By giving regular feedback to all staff and making sure they are praised as well as being given ways to improve, you’ll build a trusting relationship.
  • Avoid talking about employees in a negative manner to anyone else in the company.
  • Organise social activities that everyone can attend or maybe even let employees take it in turns to choose an activity of their choice.
  • Use inclusive language, i.e. spouse or partner rather than husband/boyfriend/wife, etc.
  • Create inclusive spaces at work, such as a prayer room.
  • Provide inclusivity training for staff members so that everyone, not just the managers, practises inclusivity.
  • Be flexible with different religious holidays and allow flexible working hours for anyone who might have parental or carer responsibilities.
  • Wherever possible make the workplace accessible for anyone with disabilities.