In this article we’re going to look at how you can define inclusive behaviour within your organisation – because it’s not just enough to talk about inclusive behaviour, you have to put it into practice.
We’re going to dive into what inclusive behaviour comprises and looks like in an organisation’s day-to-day.
If your leaders can define inclusive practice and your employees are reminded about it on a daily basis, the chances of it being ingrained into the workplace culture are a lot higher.
So, what exactly is inclusive behaviour and how do you define it?
Showing mutual respect
Being inclusive means showing mutual respect.
It’s important that employees, and leaders at your organisation have a healthy mutual respect towards one another. For instance, do you greet your diverse employees in the morning when they come into work with the same enthusiasm as you greet your racially similar employees? And it’s not only about racial or ethnicity diversity – what about employees who are a different gender, age, or level of ability or seniority within the organisation?
Mutual respect starts with the small things.
Some other signs of mutual respect within the office include:
- Showing your colleagues courtesy, politeness, and kindness
- Considering your non-verbal communication including facial expressions and body language
- Putting your phone away while talking to a colleague
- Being fully present and actively listening to a teammate, encouraging them to participate and share ideas
- Treating everyone fairly and equally
By being respectful we also work towards improving psychological safety which we know has an impact on a person’s sense of belonging and feelings of inclusion.
Socially including all colleagues
Social inclusion is another way of being inclusive at events, lunch gatherings, and other social outings – both within and outside of the office.
For instance, if you normally go out with racially similar employees for lunch, you need to break the pattern and go out with some of your more diverse colleagues.
In this way you’re demonstrating that you care about them and have a genuine interest in getting to know them as people. It’s imperative that you break the habit of hanging out with the same crowd of people, especially if you want to define yourself as an inclusive leader.
Another way you can make diverse employees feel included is to ensure they get invited to all training programs. Diverse employees need to feel that they’re being given an equal opportunity to rise and shine in their careers, and that you hold no biases that might hold them back. We can also support our diverse employees by supporting the informal and formal ERGs to foster inclusion.
When diverse employees speak up, ensure there are no awkward silences that make them feel like they’re different. They need to be given a sense of belonging, and need to feel like they’re part of a family.
Being mindful of cultural nuances
While your office may be closed for Christmas, New Year and other standard public days, consider making your holiday calendar more inclusive by supporting your culturally diverse employees to take paid time off on cultural days of their choice.
For instance, the Hindus celebrate Diwali, which is the festival of lights, while Muslims celebrate Eid once a year. Supporting and encouraging Hindus and Muslims to take days off during these culturally important days is a sign of inclusive behaviour.
Diverse employees may also have different dietary requirements. For instance, some Hindus may be pure vegetarians, while Muslims may only eat “halal” meat. At your corporate events, if you pay heed to their dietary needs, that’s another sign of inclusive behaviour.
Another cultural factor is the clothing diverse employees wear. Sikhs may wear a turban around their head, while Muslims may be required to wear a burqa. It’s important to be mindful of these nuances of in order to leverage diversity in the workplace. Everyone needs to feel like they fit into your organisation, no matter how different their clothing is!
Making inclusion an intentional habit
Being inclusive should become effortless. It shouldn’t come across as something that your leaders are doing to please you. It should just be the way they are, free of any unconscious biases, and open minded.
If you want to be successful in becoming an inclusive leader – you need to get intentional about repetition and practice. One-off actions won’t cut it.
Repeat and embed until it becomes automatic – the good news is that once it becomes automatic it requires way less energy. The reason why most organisations and leaders don’t succeed at becoming inclusive is that they don’t take this approach.
Being inclusive is not a one-off training session or random act. It is either a part of the workplace culture or it is tokenistic.
Avoid being tokenistic in your inclusive practices
Make sure your leaders are constantly building trust with your employees through their words, thoughts, and actions.
Trust is most important when it comes to being inclusive. Give your colleagues a sense of belongingness by acknowledging that you’re working towards a common goal, and a shared vision. This will go a long way in making everyone feel included.
More importantly, you must empower people to speak up when they feel excluded. This will ensure that ‘exclusion’ is minimised, and inclusion is optimised at every instance.
However, consider this about whenever you have felt excluded:
Did you have the confidence, courage, and support to speak up about the exclusive behaviour?
If not, then it is likely your organisation didn’t prioritise or define inclusive well enough for your leaders, managers, or supervisors.
Is it time to better define inclusive behaviours at your organisation?
If you’re ready to take action and empower your leaders to becoming more inclusive of diversity within your organisation, start by taking our 3 minute questionnaire.
Your answers help us to determine if our Inclusion Habits for Leaders program is a good fit your organisation.
Take the questionnaire here and we will be in touch with your next steps.