4 commitments needed to build inclusive workplaces

by Mar 23, 2018

Organisations want to enhance employee engagement

But there are no magic wand solutions to create inclusive workplaces  

There was a time when certain topics were off-limits in the workplace, or even socially. Sex, politics and religion were generally considered taboo. Other more sensitive issues were skirted around, or ignored totally, and perhaps whispered about in corridors or behind closed doors. Today we are living in different times and increasingly as we embrace inclusive workplaces. Discussions around these hot topics are considered to be helpful to fostering a productive and engaged work environment.

Inclusive workplaces


It’s not possible for these changes to happen overnight. Building inclusive workplaces requires strategy and planning and takes time. Most of the topics are sensitive to all involved and there will be road bumps for even the most well-intentioned. It’s important that these conversations are handled constructively and in the right environment. It is about growing an inclusive culture in your workplace where employees feel willing to share their differences and concerns.

The key phrases are respect, listening and empowerment.

Walk in the shoes of others

A key starting point is to understand a situation from the perspective of another person. We are all shaped by different experiences related to our family and country of origin, our neighbourhood, the schools we attended, our gender, religion and race. They form our identity and values. The downside is they allow us to view situations and people tinged by our biases, most of which are unconscious. Many organisations aren’t ready for these inclusive conversations which can become divergent and divisive if not handled correctly.

There are certain building blocks that have to be put in place to help your organisation get there in a systematic way. It is a slow process and there is a tendency to want to force the pace and get there quickly. It’s taken years to cement a homogenous corporate culture so to expect overnight change will be unrealistic.

If your company struggle with unconscious biases then contact 3Plus. We can work with you to develop solutions through our Managing Unconscious Bias Workshops.

Inclusive workplaces require 4 major commitments

#1 A leadership commitment

Creating an inclusive culture is a top down leadership initiative. Characterise your organisation using hard data. Most leaders perceive their organisations to be diverse and inclusive when one glance around the room will tell a different story. What do the numbers say and not say? Do you know how your employees feel? The biggest mistake is to try and and create a diverse and inclusive workplace with working with the same group. It means opening up to diversity of thought and bringing people in people not in the “in” or dominant group. This is not easy for many leaders. A key part of inclusive leadership is listening and empowering the people around you. This means letting go.

#2 A systems review commitment

Make systemic changes to do things differently including a review of hiring practises, promotion and assessment systems and other talent management processes. Assess other business protocols including websites, career pages and other employer branding material. How inclusive are they?

#3 An education commitment

Most organisations do not have the necessary skills in place to build and cement an inclusive workplace culture. It is going to be vital to acquire these skills either by training existing personnel, bringing in specialists or creating D & I roles for external hires who will bring this experience with them. “DIY” D& I can create more problems than it solves as we all are driven by subtle biases. Without professionals to help call them out and manage them there is a high risk of perpetuating them.

#4 A commitment to extend experience

There is no point undertaking any of these commitments without making this part of the process diverse and inclusive. Involve a wide range of employees in terms of seniority, personalities, ages, races and experience in your task force. If you have a handful of the usual advisors viewing situations through the same old corporate lens you will not get the change you want. One of the reasons why leaders prefer homgenous teams is that they are easier to manage. So now is te time to get out of your comfort zone.

Like any change, management initiative without investment of time and resources the needle will not shift.

3Plus can help you make the changes you want and strengthen your talent pipeline with Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment workshops.


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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