20 examples of non-inclusive workplace behaviours

by Feb 28, 2019

Time is up for non-inclusive workplace behaviours


Practise inclusive workplace behaviours, and become aware how non-inclusive workplace behaviours can leave people feeling undervalued. 


At the heart of an inclusive workplace is respect and trust. It means that we understand we can be our authentic selves (within reason, workplaces are also a place of compromise) without fear of reprisal, judgement or negative consequences. There are many ways for leaders to demonstrate inclusive workplace behaviours. If practised consistently, these inclusive workplace behaviours foster a professional environment where people feel valued, recognised and heard. These positive behaviours create a working environment that contributes to business success. Creativity and innovation soars, teams become more dynamic and effective and the company brand appreciates in value for the products and services but as a place to work. Retention increases and churn goes down. It should be a win-win.

Immortalised in Aretha Franklin’s song of the same name, respect is the cornerstone of any relationship as well as being at the centre of building an effective team. We can all pinpoint a moment, when we don’t feel respected but feel judged and found wanting.

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This feeling can be communicated in a number of ways and is easily done very often without thinking.

Here are 20 examples of non-inclusive workplace behaviours

These behaviours are only some suggestions. Let us know what we have missed. We have curated this list from workshop participants.

1. Blaming others for difficulties and not shining the light on your own communication styles and behaviours.

2. Poor non-verbal communication. Lack of eye contact, or showing a distracted manner. Not being present for the person who is seeking contact. This is closely linked to a closed door hierarchical policy.

3. Inappropriate tone of voice.  Aggressive, patronising, condescending or sneering tone of voice.

4. Inattentive listening.  Interrupting, talking over, criticising in public. The “cc all” button is something that is used frequently to publicly humiliate or shame someone. Not paying attention, multi-tasking when talking to someone. Leave your smart phone in your pocket even when walking the corridors so that if you run into someone you are present for them. Many organisations don’t allow phones in meetings now as research says they diminish efficiency.

5. Making assumptions before checking the facts. Ask Socratic questions to get behind the presenting issue. Another behaviour which tends to follow this is making accusations. “You are always late. You are lazy and not interested in this job.” Try “You seem to be struggling with time keeping. What’s going on for you?”  

6. Playing favourites. Not treating people the same based on race, religion, gender, size, gender, age, personality or country of origin or even personal preference. Consistency is very important to an inclusive workplace.

7. Hi-jacking someone else’s idea – Taking credit for someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. Even worse is to own the idea ad let the originator do the hard work!

8. Any kind of harassment or bullying.  Bullying, teasing or harassment based on differences in race, religion, gender,  body size and shape, gender, age, personality or country of origin or even personal preference. The list is endless.

9. Verbal abuse.  Name calling, shouting, verbal abuse and insulting others. Not following basic etiquette  – saying please or thank you.  It is always the small things that make a difference.

10. Unfiltered comments or jokes.  Making jokes or remarks related to difference whether this is race, religion, gender, size, gender, age or country of origin. In multi-cultural setting speaking in a language that others may not understand.

11. Command and control supervision.  Micro-managing: not giving a person autonomy to manage their own workload or trusting them to meet deadlines. Assigning unrealistic deadlines rather than collaborating to reach mutual agreement.

12. Indirect communication.  Gossiping or creating rumours: not dealing with issues directly via constructive communication, but discussing behind closed doors or around the water cooler. Undermining someone’s reputation with hints and innuendo.

13. Excluding or ignoring.  Withholding information that would help a person be successful, cutting them out of email chains or meetings. A lack of transparency can be a power play to create insecurity and manipulate. This is a form of psychological abuse. Withholding information about yourself that would make you more human.

14. Criticizing more than you praise. Not receiving recognition is a common factor for burn out in both men and women.

15. Inconsiderate scheduling. Organising events outside core hours at times which will impact a specific demographic e.g. breakfast meetings which will impact parents or not paying attention to time zones or local holidays in other geographies.

16. Inappropriate themes. Holding recognition events with themes that will negatively impact a specific demographic. e.g. Rock climbing could impact older workers or the physically less able or offering refreshments with no vegetarian options or non-alcoholic options.

17. Being a bystander. Failing to intervene and stage an upstander intervention when a specific incident takes place. Allowing contentious issues to fester.

18. Letting ego win. Focusing on symbols of personal authority  – the corner office, the big car for self-promotion.

19. Creating division not cohesion. Playing colleagues off against each other for stretch assignments or results. Using uncertainty to manipulate. Creating situations where someone is set up to under-perform or even fail experiencing discomfort and humiliation.

20. Not respecting other people’s time. Being late for meetings and talking over others. Not taking personal responsibility: blaming the system, others or the hierarchy.

Workplaces are becoming more complex and the old ways of leadership no longer work as well as they used to. Organisations are starting to understand that change is necessary to protect their businesses and move them forward in an ever-changing world. As Jack Welch said  “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  Many organisations which base themselves on the traditional values of hierarchy, seniority and fixed inflexible systems with a “control and patrol”  mindset, will have to play catch up or get left behind.

Where do you want to be in the change game?


3Plus can help you make the changes you want and strengthen your talent pipeline.

3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Leadership and Competence Building or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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Learn more about our services for building inclusive workplaces

Found that interesting?
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