Companies that encourage diversity in terms of gender, religion and culture are more profitable, according to data. For this to happen, however, workplaces need to be inclusive, starting from the design of its spaces to the management’s approach towards its employees.
We cannot, however, demand a change of paradigm without actively committing to it. Making everyone feel safe and welcome in the workplace is a community effort and represents the beating heart of a truly connected team that can evolve over time.
Being a more inclusive colleague requires ongoing awareness and commitment to welcome, respect and value the different perspectives, experiences and identities that exist in a workplace. Here are some of our tips.
1. Listen actively
When talking to colleagues and superiors, do you feel like you’re truly being listened to? Turn your perspective upside down by showing genuine interest in the ideas, thoughts and concerns of others. Start asking questions, as long as they are respectful, relevant to what is being discussed and appropriate to the context.
This kind of approach is the basis for creating an authentic relationship. It will improve your colleague’s self-esteem and help you get to know him/her on a more personal level, creating a sense of trust and mutual respect, and thus fostering an inclusive work environment.
2. Change perspective
Unconscious biases can often influence our perception of others and the way we approach colleagues. Try to assess people on the basis of their abilities, skills and contributions, rather than relying on stereotypes or superficial judgements. An open and unprejudiced attitude fosters an inclusive work environment, where people can express themselves without the fear of being judged negatively.
Make room for perspectives other than your own, empathise with others and welcome their opinions: diversity enriches decision-making and creativity in the team.
3. Be aware of language
The words we use have value: be aware of the expressions you use, avoiding language that is offensive, insensitive or that makes some colleagues feel excluded. Respect the different identities and gender pronouns of people, and learn the correct pronunciation of foreign names, without mispronouncing or shortening them for convenience.
4. Offer support
Supporting your colleagues and offering your help can make a difference in the professional growth and development of both parties. Mentoring can specifically help create an inclusive working environment, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential by acquiring soft skills.
Support, however, must also come from a personal point of view. The smallest gesture – such as offering a coffee or paying a compliment for a job well done – can have positive consequences in creating a successful professional relationship.
5. Educate yourself and others
Inclusion requires constant commitment. Try to educate yourself on issues related to equality, diversity and inclusion. Share your knowledge with your colleagues and encourage open and respectful discussions. Constant education can help break down stereotypes, promote mutual understanding and create a more inclusive work environment.
Active listening, avoiding prejudice, valuing different perspectives, creating authentic connections, using inclusive language, offering support and mentoring and continuously educating yourself are all important steps towards creating an inclusive work environment. Remember that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords, but values that enrich our work environment and promote individual and collective growth.