An inclusive workplace is one that not only promotes individuality but also celebrates differences in employees. Organizations that encourage inclusivity, embrace diversity, varying perspectives and experiences, will in turn benefit by increasing creativity, talent, contributions, and innovation.

The Need for an Inclusive Workplace

The demographics in the U.S. are rapidly changing, where women and men of color make up the majority of new prime-aged workers. According to a Washington Post analysis of U.S. Labor Department data, women of color are leading the charge. The same analysis showed that in 2018, the number of minority new-hires was the leading group of new employees since the 1970s.

Beyond race, we’re seeing a change in the landscape with gender and leadership roles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while women hold almost 52% of the management and professional-level jobs,  women are substantially behind men in leadership roles, although we’re seeing this trend change. Additionally, the number of in board of director roles is increasing and groups like Women on Boards — an organization that Colliers’ Karen Whitt has been very active in — have the expressed goal of promoting inclusion of women on boards.

When you truly look at diversity in the workplace, you’ll find that many of the benefits of building a diverse workforce are in line with the same benefits of having an inclusive workplace. But just because you may have diversity, does not mean you have an atmosphere of inclusivity.

In an inclusive environment, employees can thrive. It is important to create a relaxed environment where team members feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and ideas freely and are motivated to grow. This type of positive atmosphere solicits constructive feedback from employees who work diligently to improve efficiency, perform at high levels in their roles, and are engaged in the progress of the company. When team members feel empowered to take charge of their work, without asking for permission, both the employee and the company benefit.

An effective way to foster an inclusive workplace is by garnering feedback and collaboration from your team. While there is a hierarchy within an organization, all employees should feel heard and that their voice matters. In cases where an employee has a fresh take on a worn method, a good leader should welcome the new perspective and allow for suggestions. Feedback without negative reciprocation is imperative. By encouraging feedback, employees feel trusted by leadership; this sense of confidence empowers team members, fostering a sense of pride and encouragement.

In our fast-paced world, it is easy to overlook good work and not make a point to give praise and acknowledgement; give credit where credit is due. When an employee hits a milestone or has a new idea that will bring success to the team or the company, shout it out!  Share information when possible, and discuss what is happening at the senior level (where appropriate) to eliminate any veil of secrecy or exclusion.

Benefits and Positive Outcomes

The benefits of fostering an inclusive workplace go beyond just happy employees. When team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas leaders see higher job satisfaction. Open communication fosters positive and constructive feedback from engaged employees who work diligently to improve efficiency and perform at high levels in their roles. When employees feel a sense of empowerment, they tend to take charge of and lead their own projects, which in turn benefits the organization as a whole.

While growth is the goal, there is much to be said about satisfied employees who laugh and enjoy being with their team during the workday. Positive attitudes go a long way when interacting with one another and clients.

To achieve an inclusive workplace, open dialogue, two-way communication, and diversity are necessary and part of the formula for success. By working together with your team you can create a workplace that fosters creativity, innovation, and is enjoyable for all employees from entry-level to leadership.

About the Author:

Tory Glossip is a Managing Director of Colliers Real Estate Management Services in Seattle. She runs a team of dedicated, expert management professionals and believes that good talent comes from those who have a genuine interest in improving their management skills and a thirst for evolving and improving their performance.