The Inclusive Workplace: Strategies for Embracing Diversity and Accessibility

Published: December 2023

Just as the saying variety is the spice of life helps us appreciate the various kinds of food when we eat a good meal. This saying also highlights the importance of diversity and shows how it adds colour to our lives when we embrace it.

Diversity is what makes our lives more beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling. This is why diversity in the workplace has become the new normal. Organisations all over the world are trying to create an inclusive environment for talents worldwide and are working tirelessly to bridge the barriers in workplaces. What does it mean to have an inclusive workplace? Why do organisations go to great lengths to create one?

8 coffee cups with different amounts of milk sit on a wooden table. The image is reminiscent of different skin colours. Image description: 8 coffee cups with different amounts of milk sit on a wooden table. The image is reminiscent of different skin colours. 

The Meaning of Inclusion

Inclusion means people of various identities or cultures feel and are accepted, welcomed, included, respected, and represented. Inclusion involves actively and consistently engaging diversity and allowing individuals to be their authentic selves thereby allowing their voices to be heard. 

Many of us think about racial inclusion, and this is crucial. However, workplace diversity should also consider socio-economic backgrounds, ages, neurodivergents, body shapes, and disability inclusion.

A female-presenting woman in a larger body lies on the floor in yoga gear, appearing sad or upset, holding her hand to her head.Image desription: A female-presenting woman in a larger body lies on the floor in yoga gear, appearing sad or upset, holding her hand to her head.

Benefits of inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have so many benefits in the workplace. When a workplace is truly inclusive both employees and the organisation benefits. Some of the benefits include:

  • Larger talent pool: Diversity affords entities with access to a wide variety of talents worldwide. Also, statistics have shown that 67% of workers consider diversity when job hunting.
     
  • Fresh Perspectives: Organisations that work with people from various parts of the world are often furnished with new perspectives that result in significant growth and innovation.
     
  • Increased productivity of employees: Employees who feel valued and appreciated are always motivated to do their best at work and are more willing to go the extra mile, this in turn results in profitability and more business for the company.
     
  • Enriched performance: Organisations that encourage diversity and inclusion do a lot better than organisations that do not.
     
  • Better business outputs and profits: The main goal of every company is to make profit and achieve mind-blowing results. Harvard Business Review discovered that diverse organisations report a 19% increase in revenue when compared to non-diverse entities.

When organisations fail to create a workplace that encourages and engages diversity and inclusion it often results in slower business growth, unhappy employees, and in most cases employees who suffer from depression or other forms of mental health problems. To avoid all of these sad consequences organisations go to great lengths to create an inclusive atmosphere but this hasn't been without challenges.

Challenges of diversity and inclusion

Although diversity is now embraced and has become a fad it still has its unique challenges. Some of these are:

  • Communication problems: This arises because of the different backgrounds or cultures of employees. It can take the form of language barriers, hearing issues, and different communication preferences.
     
  • Discrimination: It's all too common to see this play out in diverse workplaces. Employees are often discriminated against because of their size, colour, the way they speak, their lifestyle, and preferences.
     
  • Cultural misunderstandings: This is almost inevitable because of the different people working together. Each culture has its peculiarities and this culture shock can cause misunderstandings among employees.
     
  • Inequitable inclusion: Every employee has their ideas of what an inclusive environment means, so it is sometimes a struggle to meet the ideals of each employee.
     
  • Slower decision-making: Having a diverse team can bring about a variety of ideas and it can become a challenge to make a decision promptly.

These challenges may pose a threat to the success of an inclusive workplace but they are not insurmountable. With the right structures in place, they can be overcome.

How to Promote Diversity in the Workplace

  • Regularly recognise and reward employees.
  • Collect feedback from employees.
  • Prioritise the mental well-being of employees.
  • Provide employees with DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) training.
  • Document best policies and practices.
  • Employ the services of trained professionals

One such body that helps companies create an inclusive workplace is Rural Mental Health Matters. We offer consultancy services that help organisations set up effective strategies for inclusive workplaces. Our consultancy services are unique because they are a 'consultancy that cares.’ This means that when you hire PIES Consultancy, profits will go towards tackling mental and physical health inequality in rural communities.

This social enterprise is truly a business for good.

Photo shows a mature women working in a tailor, possibly designing clothes. The pallette is pale and calming.Image description: Photo shows a mature female-presenting person working in a tailor, possibly designing clothes. The pallette is pale and calming.

It is in your best interests to create an inclusive workplace as it fosters amazing business results and overall employee well-being but this could be an arduous task. Nonetheless, it can be a seamless process when you seek help from professionals and it is indeed worth every penny.

This blog was written by Loretta McHarris, empathetic writer and so much more.

If you're looking to share your personal lived experience with us or  your expertise on mental health, physical health, accessibility, and inclusion, please contact media@ruralmhmatters.co.uk. We'd love to hear from you.

Share

Other Media Sources