What is Inclusion in the Workplace?

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We all know that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are important, but have you ever considered the meaning of each individual term?

In this quick guide, learn more about inclusion and why it matters in the workplace.

What is Inclusion?

Merriam-Webster defines inclusion as: “the act of including; the state of being included; the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability).”

Another definition of inclusion refers to creating an environment that allows all people to feel a sense of belonging, respect, value, and support.

Inclusion in the workplace looks like an environment where all employees, no matter their differences, feel like they can bring their full selves to work.

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What is Inclusion in the Workplace?

Inclusion in the workplace is about ensuring all employees feel valued, included, and supported. It’s about creating a workplace where everyone can do their best work, regardless of their background or circumstances.

An inclusive workplace is one that fosters a culture of collaboration and open communication, where everyone can contribute to their fullest potential. When inclusion is present in a workplace, it helps to create a more positive and productive work environment for all.

Why Inclusion is Important to Your Business

Multiple studies show that diversity in the workplace increases profits, but inclusion in the workplace is more difficult to quantify. As such, it’s more difficult to measure the effects of an inclusive workplace. However, there is some research on inclusion in the workplace.

In 2018, Deloitte and The Female Quotient published “Shift/Forward: The Future of Leadership,” a study that revealed the importance of an inclusive culture at work. They surveyed over 5,000 full-time employees in the U.S.

This is what is respondents said about inclusive environments:

  • 75 percent say inclusive environments help me discover new perspectives.
  • 75 percent say inclusive environments help me grow as a professional.

In addition, many respondents cited specific qualities of inclusion as key to career advancement. The answers to, “What have been the biggest accelerators helping your personal career advancement?” include:

  • 38 percent listed Acceptance: Feeling accepted and comfortable in your work environment.
  • 37 percent listed Advocacy: Managers who advocate on their behalf.
  • 33 percent listed Authenticity: Being authentic.

Gallup’s annual State of the Workplace report includes metrics on employee engagement. They ask respondents to agree or disagree with 12 questions to determine if an employee is engaged. Three of these reflect inclusion:

  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.

Gallup has studied employee engagement for more than 50 years. When comparing the top- and bottom-quartile business units and teams, they found the following differences in business outcomes:

  • 28 percent decrease in shrinkage (theft)
  • 18 percent increase in productivity (sales)
  • 23 percent increase in profitability

Engaged employees are also more likely to stay with a company.

How Inclusion Can Improve Employee Retention

Employee attrition can be expensive, but creating an inclusive workplace can encourage employee retention.

Gallup found even more business outcomes that reveal the value of engaged employees (and an inclusive workplace). These include:

  • 81 percent decrease in absenteeism
  • 18 percent decrease in turnover for “high turnover” organizations
  • 43 percent decrease in turnover for “low turnover” organizations

In 2017, Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative published “Unleashing the Power of Inclusion,” a study that revealed the connection between inclusive workplaces and employee retention. Their findings include:

  • 39 percent of respondents reported that they would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one.
  • 23 percent of respondents indicated they have already left an organization for a more inclusive one.

Inclusion is about making sure everyone feels like they belong. When employees feel like they are part of a team and that their voice matters, they are more likely to stay with the company.

How to Create an Inclusive Workplace

Inclusion in the workplace requires commitment from all levels, including both frontline managers and executives. Creating an inclusive workplace is also an ongoing initiative, not a single program. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Be open to feedback. Find out how your employees currently feel about existing inclusion and other DEI initiatives in the workplace. Use anonymous surveys, one-on-one meetings, and focus groups to gauge employees’ perspectives on company culture. Once you have a starting point, you know exactly where to implement changes.
  • Use inclusive language. For example, use gender-neutral terms like parental leave and chairperson. Be careful with idiomatic expressions and slang, since some have offensive origins. Consider offering training on inclusive language, microaggressions, and microaffirmations. If you inadvertently use offensive language, apologize for your mistake, and be careful not to repeat it.
  • Assess the work environment for accessibility. Does the office have accessible parking, entrances, and restrooms? If not, what can be done to accommodate employees with disabilities until the office is renovated for accessibility? For example, offer remote work options. Also, look over any training and development materials. Are they usable for employees with auditory, visual, motor, or cognitive disabilities? If not, update them as quickly as possible.
  • Update the company holiday calendar. Acknowledge special events and holidays that are important to different cultures and religions. If possible, adjust the holiday schedule to include floating holidays so employees can choose their own meaningful days to celebrate.

These ideas are just a starting point to develop inclusion in the workplace. If you’re interested in expert advice, Insight Global can help.

Inclusive Leadership with Insight Global

Our DEIB services include specialized curriculum to help your organization create an equitable and inclusive workforce. Leading is a package of three courses, intended to be spread out over time to ensure retention, engagement and, and adoption of information. These courses are:

  • Inclusive Communication: Diving into macroaggressions and microaggressions, trust, privilege, psychological safety in the workplace, and more.
  • Advocacy and Allyship: Defining these terms, how they play into one’s day-to-day inside and outside of the office, as well as breaking down any stigmas around the words.
  • Inclusive Leadership Training: A leadership curriculum built from three courses that teach how to establish DEIB best practices as a leader and create a more inclusive environment for the teams they serve.

Connect with Insight Global today. Our team is ready to work with you on your journey to a more equitable and inclusive workforce.

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Create a more inclusive workplace with Insight Global.