Creating a truly inclusive workforce

Inclusivity is the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, disability, etc. Creating a more inclusive workplace is about more than just ensuring your office includes diverse hires. While it is absolutely essential for all workplaces to reflect Canada’s evolving population, our view is that creating an inclusive workplace is about designing an environment that enables all employees to succeed equally on a level playing field despite their background or individual life stage.

These are a few factors to consider:

Physical work environment

Most employees value flexibility but have different preferences regarding a desirable work environment, and life stage has much to do with this. An experienced employee who lives just outside the city may value an almost exclusively remote role. In contrast, an employee with a young family may need to get out of the house to be able to focus, and an intern may be excited to spend time in the office with everyone on the team to learn as much as possible during their short contract period. An inclusive workplace is one that considers all of this and caters to individuals’ unique needs and what enables them to perform at their best. Executing this is not always easy, but it’s imperative to communicate that creating an environment where everyone can succeed is the goal while welcoming feedback from your team every step of the way.

Mental health resources

The world may be more challenging than ever as we experience a volatile economy, ageing parents and global health concerns globally, while many newcomers work to establish themselves in Canada, often without the robust family support system they are accustomed to. Part of creating an inclusive workforce is making mental health support and resources available and making sure it’s known at all levels of the organisation. This can range from individual benefits for therapy but also extend to whole team training tied to project management, stress management, leadership and managing up. Nothing feels more inclusive than knowing your employer values you as a person first and a skilled worker second and that they are putting in the effort required to help you perform at your best.

Making time for team and culture

In a fast-paced world, what’s most valuable from a team and culture perspective continues to vary. A monthly all-team lunch or offsite event might no longer make sense if the team is spending less time in the office, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean culture is any less important. There are many less conventional ways to keep team and culture a key business priority, and doing so is part of what helps to create a truly inclusive workplace. Consider asking the team to vote for a cause they care about and rally everyone together to accomplish a related goal. Consider launching a semi-formal book club where you purchase and encourage the senior team to read a cutting-edge leadership book once a quarter and get together to share findings and how they can be applied to your business. Encouraging team members to pursue passions in small groups can also be effective, whether it’s an open membership to a local athletics club or season tickets to see a local sports team.

It’s essential to think about what inclusivity means in the workplace at a deeper level. Addressing team diversity is one small part of the equation. True inclusivity creates an environment that enables every person to be their authentic self and bring their best to the workplace daily. This is work that never ends.

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