In the words of Jesse Jackson, politician and civil rights activist: “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” So the question remains, how can you secure growth by fostering an inclusive workplace remotely?
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk around inclusivity and diversity, with a particular focus on work environments.
Inclusivity at work is not only an essential contributor to a fairer, more equal world, but it is also a gift that keeps on giving. By that, we mean that practicing inclusivity in the workplace can generate benefits from across the board. This allows your company to stand out as a forward-thinking business and makes your employees happier, like a ripple effect.
But do you know what an inclusive workplace really means? It’s a simple concept. It refers to providing every single one of your employees with equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal treatment regardless of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion, and more.
The Benefits of Inclusivity at Work
A company that is – and that can prove to be – inclusive, will attract a more talented workforce. In turn, a workforce that feels valued and respected is more prone to perform better and work in a more efficient and productive way.
This results in better products and services, happier clients, and more profits for everyone. Feeling inspired? Keep reading to discover who has been leading the way to fairer, more diverse workplaces. And how you can use their ideas to foster an inclusive workplace remotely.
In 2020, Statista (in partnership with The Financial Times) ran an assessment of the most inclusive companies in Europe. When reading the list, many familiar names spring up: Giorgio Armani, Booking.com, Google, SAP, Disneyland Paris, and Sephora, to cite a few.
All these brands were evaluated and praised for their inclusivity policies and practices. These included high-ranking employees belonging to ethnic minorities, as well as older employees and female employees.
In 2019, Fortune’s partner Great Place to Work completed similar research among US companies. This placed Stryker, Cisco, and Progressive Insurance in the top-three positions. This review was based on inclusivity factors such as “employing women and people of all genders, people of color, LGBTQ people, employees who are Boomers or older, and people who have disabilities.”
Further to this, the study also conducted employee-based surveys. These were essential in providing a more in-depth, personal view of how diverse and inclusive their workplace is. With so many amazing companies leading the way to more welcoming and equal workplaces, your business should follow suit.
You’ve Gone Remote: Now What?
You have been wondering for a while: “How can I make my company more inclusive, attract great talent, and contribute to a better, fairer world?”. And then a global pandemic hit. Remote working became the norm and fresh challenges appeared.
As living rooms transformed into offices, and cafes emptied of all their laptop-brandishing, latte-gulping customers – people around the globe have had to adjust to a more solitary, independent, and at times, challenging way of working.
Does this mean that you should no longer care about making your employees feel valued and appreciated, and help them to celebrate their diversity?
Of course, not. Even in a digital world, there are things you can do to promote inclusiveness, champion diversity, and promote the unique skills and value of your staff.
How? We are about to reveal five easy ways to achieve an inclusive workplace remotely.
1 – Make It Easy for Everyone to Voice Their Opinions and Concerns
Being inclusive has a lot to do with empathy. To show more empathy towards your workforce you can give them constant and easy opportunities to make their voices heard. Let everyone have their say on matters that regard the whole company. For example, circulate email questionnaires or surveys on topical issues.
Organize regular events to discuss topics that do not necessarily have to do with increasing profits or beating competitors, but are more about allowing your employees – particularly those belonging to minorities – to express their opinions and concerns on specific issues.
You are going to need to download some specific software tools, such as video conferencing platforms, and ask your employees to do the same. But once this is done, everyone can join the event, and feel like they are still part of something great, despite the physical distance.
2 – Incorporate Inclusivity Training and Best Practices
Making inclusivity training and other similar events a staple on your company’s calendar is another great idea. There are at least three different ways in which you can approach this. Create the training sessions yourself, hire a specialist, or appoint specific people within your staff.
You could also mix and match all three options for a more comprehensive, varied, and stimulating result. In any case, make sure that you ask your employees for detailed feedback and suggestions at the end of each training session.
This can further contribute to our previous tip, as it will show your staff how much you value their opinion and recommendations.
Another great thing about inclusivity training sessions is that they are perfect to be held online. Yes, you are going to have to ensure that all your employees have a good-quality connection and secure, fast, and reliable access to virtual training. But once you have taken care of all the technicalities, the end result will be well worth it.
3 – Engage Your Team in Charity Activities
Yes, one of your company’s priorities is to make profits, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in voluntary work or events. In fact, you should! It’s also a great idea to rope in your entire team to get everyone involved to feel part of the community.
Make it a frequent activity – let’s say monthly. Ask your team to suggest charities that are close to their heart, and change them over often. Run special charity online events, like a fun quiz, a music night, or an online escape room.
Strengthen those feelings of participation and community connection that often get lost with remote working. Helping others outside your business ultimately supports the goal of maintaining an inclusive workplace remotely.
4 – Create Some Regular Virtual Hangouts With the Whole Team
Now that your employees are more used to communicating digitally, you can start to introduce a bit of a fun element: virtual hangouts.
After all, inclusivity is not just about having serious, formal conversations. It can and should be a normal, natural, and relaxed part of our daily lives. So, an informal meetup with your employees can be a nice way for them all to let their hair down. Allowing them to talk about themselves and get to know each other better.
As this is going to happen on a video call, you are definitely going to need a few extra elements for it to be more convincing. You could, for example, opt to create a playlist. Features some of your staff’s favorite artists and songs that you could play in the background. Similarly, you could ask everyone to prepare a drink or dish that they are particularly fond of. And as a group, everyone could enjoy it while on live chat. They could also share the recipe with everyone else!
5 – Devote Some Time Each Month for a Casual One-to-One Chat
Last, but not least, as a manager, you are going to need to dedicate some of your time to your employees in the form of individual meetings. These can be as formal or laid-back as you like, but they should always touch upon a few essential topics.
Some of them are, for example, their work-life balance, whether they feel well supported in the “new normal” of remote working, and what you can do to help them perform even better. Remember, you don’t want to push anyone to discuss any personal or intimate details about their lives. If you sense any resistance or reluctance, back off and either rephrase your sentence or skip to a different topic.
Maybe next time, this person will feel more comfortable in opening up a bit more and allowing you to help them bring out their best and most productive self.
Need some help?
Do you want to get started with building a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse company? Uvaro can help. Our purpose is to offer companies a diverse portfolio of exceptional graduates and connect them with the best career opportunities to enhance their personal and professional lives.