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What is Inclusion in the workplace?

What is Inclusion in the workplace? Groups of colleagues discussing Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion in the workplace is about building a supportive environment in which everyone feels accepted, welcomed, and valued. We are all different, we all have a story, and we all need to be valued and included to achieve our full potential at work.

Becoming inclusive is a journey rather than a destination. It takes time to develop, raise awareness, and grow. We all have things we enjoy and things we struggle with. But some colleagues contend with even greater challenges every day at work, and most of us are unaware of what they are dealing with.

Here are some dimensions of diversity to take into account when thinking about inclusion:

A woman working in a factory smiles at the camera

Gender Equality

Achieving Gender Equality – a level playing field for men and women – remains an ongoing struggle across the globe, underscored by disparities in pay, employment, education, healthcare, and other freedoms and opportunities. In the workplace, while the number of women in influential positions has improved throughout the last few decades, high-level offices continue to be dominated by men.

Sexual Orientation

Inclusive workplaces are safe places for all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) people. No LGBTQ+ colleagues (whether they are ‘out’ at work or not) should ever have to fear discrimination, harassment or bullying for who they are, who they love, how they look, or how they express their gender identity.

Two diverse young colleagues fist bump each other in a modern office
Four colleagues smile while working together on a shared laptop at a desk #Clue: you discovered the letter K! Now find image 7

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are the various beliefs, expressions, and practices that are shaped by our backgrounds. These might be influenced by our ethnic and national heritage and our upbringing. The term “cultural diversity” refers to having different cultures respect each other’s differences. In the business world it is often used to describe the inclusion of different cultural perspectives in an organization.

Physical Disabilities (visible and hidden)

A physical disability is a limitation on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Physical disabilities can be both visible and hidden, and include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, visual impairment, epilepsy and sleep disorders. People with disabilities should feel confident, valued, and included at work.

A smartly dressed young woman smiles while working on a laptop #Clue: your hidden letter is the first in the alphabet! Got it? Easy... Now find image 6
A remote worker sitting on a sofa and wearing a headset waves and smiles to her laptop screen

Working Remotely & Distributed Teams

This category in the context of D&I relates to ensuring that all employees are treated equally and are included regardless of where they work. For example, on-site employees should not receive preferential treatment to remote workers, and a team based overseas should be treated equally to a team at HQ.

Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is the concept that all humans vary in terms of our neurocognitive ability. Neurodivergent people learn and process information differently, and they tend to find some things very easy and other things incredibly hard. In an inclusive and supportive environment, this can provide a competitive advantage. But too often, neurodivergent colleagues contend with extra challenges at work.

A smartly dressed young man smiles towards the camera with his hands in his pockets #Clue: your hidden letter in Roman Numerals is 50. A bit trickier... Now find image 8
An older man instructs two younger colleagues on how to use some electrical equipment in an workplace #Clue: you discovered the letter O! Now go to image 4

Age & Generation

Ageism is when someone treats you unfairly because of your age. If you experience ageism, it can impact on your confidence, job prospects, financial situation, and quality of life.

Each generation contributes in unique ways. Typically, younger generations are considered to bring new skills, enthusiasm, and innovative ideas, while older generations are seen to possess vital experience, honed skills and knowledge, and wide networks.

Family Situation

This theme embraces all the different forms of families and family life that exist in society.

D&I in this category relates to our efforts to support pregnant women, workers with caring commitments, and other groups whose lives and careers are impacted by their family status.

A smiling father and daughter sit at a desk together drawing on paper #Clue: your final hidden letter derives from the Ancient Greek letter alpha. Found your furry friend yet?
A young woman smiles while shaking hands with an older female colleague

Mental Health

Inclusive workplaces proactively promote better wellbeing, balance and mental health.

Talking about our mental health and taking action to maintain positive wellbeing is not always easy. Supporting our colleagues, opening up about our struggles, and discussing our needs are vital in the collective effort to support mental health in the workplace.

Conclusion

Building an inclusive workplace requires an ongoing effort to raise awareness, provide support, and adapt to new demands. Inclusive businesses evolve, celebrate successes, and learn from things that don’t go to plan. With all parts of the team working together, they foster inclusion as a collective, providing a platform for all colleagues to feel valued and comfortable. Only then can a company achieve its full potential.

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