Organizational Wellness

11 Powerful Strategies to Foster Inclusion in the Workplace

Jun 27, 2024
Last Updated Jun 27, 2024

Creating an inclusive workplace involves more than setting targets and quotas — it’s about cultivating a company culture that ensures everyone feels welcome. 

Like most good things in life, this takes daily work, which means you’ll need to employ effective strategies to foster inclusion in the workplace. But it’s worth the effort: Inclusive workplaces deliver a better employee experience and can give your company a strategic advantage. This includes both upper management and lower management, as firms that have achieved diversity in both are more productive than those that haven’t. 

And there’s a positive correlation between an inclusive work environment and job satisfaction, according to a study published in the Central European Business Review. 

As shown in Wellhub’s State of Work-Life Wellness 2024, over 98% of people say their belonging at work is important to their overall wellbeing — so workplace inclusivity is definitely something worth investing in. Here are 11 steps you can take to make this a reality.

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What Is Inclusion in the Workplace?

Inclusion in the workplace refers to creating an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and skills. It goes beyond diversity — which focuses on the representation of different groups — to ensure that every individual, regardless of their background or identity, feels welcomed and supported.

Although it might sound like a basic requirement, only 70% of employees feel included at work, according to research from Boston Consulting Group. This means that almost one-third of employees could use a little more support from their company to feel like they belong. That’s because successfully creating an inclusive workplace environment is more than hitting a quota — it’s about engaging in the daily work that will help everyone feel welcome and appreciated. 

Use these tips to promote inclusivity in your workplace.

11 Ways to Foster Inclusion in the Workplace

Creating an inclusive workplace environment is attainable, and you’ve already taken the first step by searching for resources. The following are some of the best strategies to boost your organization’s inclusivity: 

  1. Cultivate a Culture of Belonging

Creating an inclusive workplace is more about shifting your team’s mindset rather than meeting a certain quota or instituting one specific policy. As such, it’s always a good idea to incorporate numerous ways to foster a sense of belonging in your organizations. Some of the best practices for creating a culture of belonging are:

  • Fostering open communication and active listening in regular, inclusive meetings.
  • Celebrating diversity by recognizing cultural holidays and hosting events with food, music, and traditions from different cultures.
  • Cultivating a sense of community through mentorship programs connecting employees across departments.
  • Sharing company goals and achievements regularly to help everyone see the bigger picture.
  • Empowering the team by recognizing contributions and offering growth opportunities.
  • Setting a positive tone by having leaders embody inclusivity and respect.

These practices can create a welcoming and supportive environment where everyone thrives.

  1. Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Recruitment and Hiring

It’s always a good idea to keep workplace equity in mind during the recruitment process. In fact, most recruiters already do, as 80% of them say their organizations are committed to creating a more diverse workforce, according to LinkedIn Talent Solutions.

Some of the best practices for prioritizing inclusion during recruitment are:

  • Verifying job postings are inclusive and free from biased language is a good place to start. 
  • Using gender-neutral terms and highlighting your DEI commitment might attract a diverse range of candidates.
  • Posting jobs on diverse job boards.
  • Partnering with organizations that support underrepresented groups. 
  • Having structured interviews with standardized questions to minimize bias. 
  • Forming a diverse hiring panel that brings varied perspectives to the table. 

  1. Inclusive Onboarding

First impressions matter, so making onboarding count is crucial. In fact, a strong onboarding process can help employers increase employee retention, engagement, and motivation, according to a Certified Public Manager® Applied Research study. The onboarding process is a great opportunity to make your new hires aware of your organization’s DEI policies and practices.

To do this, you can start by making sure that onboarding materials are accessible and cater to different learning styles. Is any of the information in the materials outdated? Are any marginalized groups left out of the materials?

Sending a personalized welcome email and setting up regular check-ins during the first few months can make new hires feel valued and included. You might also want to include information on your DEI policies to inform and encourage your new hires to engage with them.

  1. Provide Inclusive Training and Development

Training programs are excellent ways to improve DEI in the workplace. Since employees can be more receptive to different types of training, it’s always a good idea to offer a few formats to promote an inclusive environment. Some of the best practices are: 

  • In-person workshops for interactive learning and discussion.
  • Online courses that offer flexibility and accessibility.
  • Self-paced modules that allow employees to learn at their own convenience.
  • Book clubs that encourage reading and discussion on DEI topics.
  • Lunch-and-learn sessions for casual yet informative learning experiences.

  1. Establish and Support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

ERGs can be a fantastic way to foster inclusion. These are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational goals and support personal and professional growth. Today, about 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs in the workplace, according to a McKinsey survey.

Supporting ERGs involves more than just setting them up. Providing resources such as meeting spaces, budget allocations, and executive sponsorship can help these groups thrive. And, once you have multiple ERGs up and running, it’s always a good idea to promote collaboration between them. Many DEI issues overlap, so your ERGs could work together to make an even bigger impact.

  1. Encourage Employee Feedback and Participation

Creating a culture where feedback is valued can significantly enhance inclusivity. Employees who feel heard in the workplace are much more likely to be highly engaged than disengaged (92% vs. 30%), according to a survey from The Workforce Institute at UKG. Regular team meetings and anonymous surveys can help you gather genuine employee feedback.  

Consider implementing regular feedback mechanisms such as anonymous surveys, suggestion boxes, and open forums. These channels can provide insights into employee concerns and ideas for improvement.

A few questions you can include in a diversity survey include: "How included and valued do you feel in your team on a scale of 1-10? Have you experienced or witnessed any bias or discrimination in the past six months? What suggestions do you have to improve our diversity and inclusion efforts?" 

  1. Celebrate Diversity and Recognize Inclusive Efforts

Celebrating diversity can be both fun and impactful. You might consider organizing events around cultural holidays, heritage months, and other significant dates, like Juneteenth. Today, more than half of companies consider holidays in their diversity strategies, according to a Direct Employers Association survey. These celebrations can educate employees about different cultures and promote a sense of belonging.

Recognizing internal inclusivity leaders is equally important. You can consider an awards program to highlight individuals and teams who have made significant contributions to fostering a diverse and welcoming workplace. Sharing these success stories in company newsletters or on your intranet can inspire others to take similar actions. 

  1. Address Unconscious Bias and Microaggressions

Addressing unconscious bias and microaggressions is crucial for creating a truly inclusive environment. A microaggression is a subtle, often unintentional, comment or action that conveys prejudice or stereotypes towards a marginalized group. Unfortunately, these are very common:

  • Almost 1 in 5 employees in the U.S. reported experiencing one or more microaggressions at work, according to a Gallup poll.
  • 78% of women have experienced microaggressions at work, according to a McKinsey report.
  • 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ employees has experienced a microaggression at work, according to a McKinsey survey.
  • 70% of workers say they would find a microaggression upsetting, according to Harvard Business Report.

Establishing clear policies and procedures for reporting and addressing microaggressions may help curb this. Creating a safe space where employees feel comfortable speaking up without fear of retaliation is essential. Encouraging open dialogue about these issues can promote a more understanding and supportive workplace.

  1. Review and Update Policies and Practices

Refreshing your company’s policies can have a tremendous impact on your company’s culture. Think of it as a treasure hunt, looking for hidden spots that might need a bit more inclusivity. You will want to consider:

  • Reviewing your hiring practices, promotion paths, and benefits.
  • Involving a diverse team to explore how different viewpoints can uncover new improvement opportunities.
  • Introducing standardized evaluation criteria to minimize subjective judgments.
  • Institutionalizing a safe space for employee feedback.
  • Researching what peers in your industry are doing.

  1. Measure and Track Progress

Curious about how your inclusion efforts are doing? Using key metrics to track for inclusion can be like having a scorecard. You can set measurable goals and track your progress by collecting data on employee demographics, hiring trends, and satisfaction with regular surveys. 

This lets you watch how the diversity in your applicant pool grows, track retention rates, and see who’s engaging with your inclusion initiatives. These numbers tell an important story!

  1. Partner with External Organizations

Collaborating with external organizations to boost your diversity and inclusion efforts lets you tap their existing network. These partnerships can also provide new resources and fresh perspectives. Take a few minutes to create a list of the nonprofits, advocacy groups, and industry associations in your field. 

These organizations offer training programs, workshops, and seminars that can bring innovative ideas to your strategies. They can help you recruit or host DEI-focused events that keep your team up-to-date with the latest trends and practices.

Boosting Inclusion to Elevate Employee Wellbeing

At the heart of creating an inclusive workplace is the commitment to making every employee feel valued and respected. Establishing ERGs, encouraging employee feedback, celebrating diversity, and addressing unconscious bias are crucial first steps. These actions foster a sense of belonging and enhance overall employee satisfaction and engagement.

An employee wellbeing program can help address these inclusion challenges by providing structured support and resources. Happy employees are more likely to feel like an important part of your organization, which will directly benefit both the employees and the company. These programs offer training on unconscious bias, platforms for ERGs, and channels for continuous feedback, directly benefiting both employees and the company. 

Wellbeing Specialist can help you learn more about how wellbeing programs can support your organization’s journey towards a more inclusive and thriving workplace! 

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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