Inclusion has significant business benefits - from better board decision-making to higher employee productivity. In truly inclusive environments, people feel comfortable to challenge and question the status quo; individuals feel empowered to voice their opinions; and challenge existing paradigms. At its essence, inclusion involves creating a culture where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute meaningfully. Inclusive workplaces go beyond tolerance; they actively cultivate an environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed and embraced as catalysts for growth and innovation.

In having a workforce where all employees feel comfortable to express themselves, businesses stand to benefit by tapping into a rich reservoir of ideas and insights that drive sustainable growth and success. True inclusivity is also a central part of establishing a sense of belonging. Critically, a sense of belonging within the culture of a business can boost morale and engagement and foster loyalty and commitment among employees, leading to greater retention rates and overall organisational resilience.

Inclusion is a practice that becomes a mindset. It requires a concerted effort to identify and address systemic barriers to inclusion, as well as a commitment to ongoing education and awareness-building initiatives. By embedding inclusive practices into everyday operations and decision-making processes, organisations can create a culture where diversity is celebrated and every individual is empowered to thrive.

To establish a practice of inspiring inclusion, in which each person can play a role in shaping a culture of belonging and respect, there are several behaviours that sets the tone from the top:

1.    Leading by example

Leadership sets the tone for inclusivity within an organisation. By actively seeking feedback and diverse perspectives in meetings and discussions, leaders demonstrate a commitment to valuing the contributions of every individual and inviting feedback and participation. This approach not only fosters a culture of openness and collaboration but also encourages others to follow suit.

2.    Modelling inclusive behaviour

Model inclusive behaviour by taking action in championing diverse talent and serving as an ally to underrepresented groups. By actively supporting and advocating for marginalised voices, leaders can create an environment where everyone feels empowered to thrive.

3.    Encouraging participation and recognition

Inclusive environments prioritise involvement, discussion, and the exploration of contrary perspectives. Leaders should actively encourage such behaviours and recognise individuals who embody the principles of inclusion. By rewarding inclusive practices, organisations reinforce the value of diversity and create norms where inclusion is encouraged and expected.

4.    Celebrating diversity

Embrace diversity by celebrating the unique strengths and perspectives that individuals from different backgrounds bring in the business environment. By fostering a culture of celebration and inclusion, organisations can unlock more paths to innovation and creativity through leveraging diversity of thought and experience.

5.    Challenging the status quo:

True inclusion requires a commitment to identify and address barriers within the organisation which may hinder inclusivity. To ensure fairness and equity for all, leaders should consider challenging the status quo by proactively examining existing processes and systems, as well as the informal subcultures and systems that tend to arise over time. By addressing gaps in recognition and reward, organisations can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Inspiring inclusion can positively impact decision quality and an organisation's financial and non-financial performance. Creating a culture of inclusion begins with the purposeful practice of inclusive behaviour which starts with you! 

For more insights on diversity and inclusion, please visit our Diversity and inclusion page.