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5 steps to foster an inclusive workplace

The population of New York City truly reflects the broader world, with people from all different nations, cultures, religions, sexual orientations and backgrounds calling the Big Apple home. In the last several years, businesses have not only seen the benefits of having a diverse workplace that reflects New York, but an inclusive workplace as well.

Making your business an inclusive place for all employees means that all of them feel welcome and want to engage. In a booming economy, where employees can leave for another job easily, you want your business to be one that keeps good employees. Part of that is making them feel a part of the team and that their contribution is important. They also need to feel safe, that if they are transgender or a devout Muslim they will still be welcome in your company and by all employees.

A business can take steps to promote an inclusive workplace, including some of the following:

  1. Get to know people beyond work. Take the time to talk about what people’s interests are, to allow employees to show who they really are at work. Knowing coworkers more personally fosters communication and teamwork, ultimately benefiting a business when employees need to work together to meet a deadline or solve a problem.
  2. Rotate who runs meetings. Businesses want employees who feel their contribution is valuable. Encouraging different employees to help run meetings will show that everyone can contribute.
  3. Encourage collaboration. Businesses can approach this in many ways, including having brainstorming meetings between different departments or seeking input from someone you normally wouldn’t interact with in decision making. Also, having collaboration spaces in your office layout can further employee interaction and collaboration.
  4. Celebrate different backgrounds. Employees should feel welcome to share part of their culture during office gatherings. Perhaps, your business can host multi-ethnic potluck lunches, a Pride celebration or have prayer rooms dedicated for specific religions or practices.
  5. Set goals, assess and adjust. Business leadership needs to set goals for diversity and inclusion and review those regularly. Have a small, diverse committee to assess how your business is doing to meet those goals and brainstorm ways to improve.

Ultimately, having employees from diverse backgrounds and experiences feel welcome will allow them, and others, to reach their full potential at work, which any business would benefit from.

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