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6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace

By: Sarah Gibson

Your organization is made up of a diverse group of employees with a wide range of beliefs, cultures, and life experiences. To create an environment of inclusion at work where every employee feels like they belong, your work culture needs a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan in place.

We all know that maintaining a diverse, inclusive workplace is the right thing to do, but it can be a challenge to get your organization there and continue improving upon your growth. With some changes and vigilance on your part, you can ensure that your organization prioritizes DEI initiatives. And once you’ve incorporated great DEI practices into your workplace, it becomes part of your brand identity—it’s essential to your brand, just like your mission, logo, or color palette.

At Sagefrog, DEI is a driving force in our organization’s culture. Here are six steps we’ve taken to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace that you can emulate in your organization. These diversity and inclusion tips will help transform the way you work to put your team on a path to progress.

1. Educate Your Leadership Team 💡

The managers at your organization are the foundation of creating and promoting an inclusive work culture. It’s essential that your leadership team is trained on the importance of inclusion in the workplace as well as the role that diversity and equity play in company-wide success and that they listen to your employees’ experiences and concerns. This can be achieved by simply initiating productive discussions among leaders and managers, requiring specific educational courses, or hiring third-party facilitators to guide DEI planning and training. Creating a truly diverse workplace in which team members feel safe and supported is a slow process, so don’t be discouraged when your organization inevitably has a few stumbles along the way—with an educated leadership team all striving for the same DEI goals, you will certainly overcome any obstacles that arise.

2. Rethink Workplace Policies 📝

A good first step in creating a diverse, inclusive workplace is to take a look at your existing policies; everything ranging from how you recruit new employees to how you manage your current ones. Your organization may have implemented rules that fail to support your employees or that actively create DEI issues. Keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Take another look at your non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, as well as the accommodations you offer employees for disability, medical, and religious reasons. These guidelines should be regularly reviewed and updated to safeguard the team and company.
  • If your hiring process involves fishing from the same small pool, change it up to make sure your talent pool includes a diverse range of candidates. Rather than sourcing applications from the same channels, try looking at job fairs, hiring agencies, community outreach programs, and job boards designed to bring more roles to minorities, marginalized groups, and other diverse communities.
  • Even in 2022, we are still seeing a gender pay gap, even when considering all compensable factors like education, hours worked, and job experience. Review your payroll details and make sure that your employees are being compensated equally for having the same skills, experience, and roles.
  • From religious holidays to federal and cultural days of significance, you certainly have employees that celebrate and value a range of different days. Offer PTO or a rolling paid holiday to be used when it’s relevant for each employee.

3. Make Pronouns Matter 🌟

When your organization encourages the use of pronouns in email signatures, org charts, and video call names, you send a positive signal to your employees (as well as your clients). You are showing that not only are you aware of the existence of  people who identify with other pronouns, but that you understand the need for your entire organization to adopt these practices so everyone can feel comfortable and welcomed. It takes courage to be yourself at work—help your employees by making it a little easier for them.

In addition to modeling the use of pronouns, another way you can respect your employees is by using gender-neutral, people-first language—it’s better to inquire about someone’s “spouse” rather than their “husband” or “wife,” and the term “partner” is useful because it works for anyone regardless of gender or marital status.

4. Keep Communication Open 📖

Communication is everything; the best way you can learn what your employees want and need is if they tell you directly. Maintain an open dialogue with 1-on-1 meetings for employees and keep your door open for questions, suggestions, challenges, and concerns. Employees should be able to trust management to discuss any DEI challenges or issues they face.

5. Communicate Goals & Measure Progress 📈

Once you’ve done all the hard work of finding your organization’s DEI shortcomings and implementing plans to improve, now it’s time to communicate your clear goals to every employee. When everyone knows what to expect, they can all work together to improve your workplace as a group. Your leadership will also need a quantifiable way to measure your progress and keep track of your planned milestones to make sure you’re “walking the walk” with your DEI initiatives.

6. Bring DEI into Everyday Conversations 💬

The best way to make sure your entire organization practices DEI is encourage your employees to discuss (and advocate for) DEI, both in your organization and in the world at large. It shows your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reminds your employees of your company’s values. One way to keep it fun and let employees share their uniqueness is to give them opportunities to talk about and celebrate their culture and traditions with the team, if they choose to. Either way, if you make your workplace culture include regular discussions about DEI-related news and thoughts, it will create a more welcoming work environment.

When your organization maintains a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, everyone benefits. Inclusive workplaces are more profitable than their non-inclusive counterparts, and employees are happier and healthier.

Need help integrating these steps toward DEI in your workplace? Get in touch with Sagefrog to discuss how we can help you put policies and branding in place at your organization to make everyone you work with feel welcomed and valued.

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