Eight Strategies for Being More Inclusive in the Workplace

Inclusivity isn’t just an optional goal or moral ideal to strive toward. It’s an important and necessary part of doing business in the modern workplace. As a business leader or owner, you must ensure that your workplace is inclusive, diverse, and accommodating to people of different faiths, physical needs, orientations, and much more.

There are benefits to prioritizing inclusivity, after all. Diverse and inclusive workplaces have stronger cultures, more supportive employees, and better results in terms of marketing, sales, and safety. Fortunately, you can be more inclusive in the workplace by following a few key strategies. If you don’t know where to start, read on!

It Starts with Hiring

All diversity and inclusivity efforts begin with the hiring process. Specifically, you need to make sure that inclusivity is a primary goal of your hiring process right from the get-go.

In general, companies and executives often make the mistake of only hiring the people who have the best on paper qualifications or recommendations. In theory, this is great. “But in practice, it often leads you to avoid a diverse workforce or exclude individuals who belong to minority communities,” says Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer at Readers.com.

This can happen unconsciously due to bias or completely accidentally. Regardless of the root cause, you can be more inclusive in the workplace by looking at your hiring practices and ensuring that inclusivity is at the top of your objectives, alongside traditional qualifications (such as having the right degree for a position, having relevant work experience, etc.).

Mandate Inclusivity When Recruiting

To ensure results, you as a business owner or executive should mandate inclusivity among your HR staff or those in charge of the hiring process. You don’t necessarily need to mandate hiring a specific number of individuals from minority groups. Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick says, “But you should make sure that each of your HR representatives knows the importance of inclusivity and acts appropriately.”

If, after a short while, inclusivity hasn’t changed in your organization, you may need to redouble your efforts. “If all else fails, don’t hesitate to sit on a hiring board yourself,” says Gadek. “That way, you can make sure that you hire diverse employees to fill open positions at every possible chance.”

Promote Diversity in Marketing & Internal Materials

You should also take steps to promote diversity in both your marketing materials (such as online and in-person advertisements) and internal company materials, like employee handbooks, seminar invitations, and so on.

This is easier than you may think. For instance, if you are redoing your employee handbook, have drawings or photos of diverse individuals rather than having all white individuals on the cover. “These little touches can do a lot to promote inclusivity in the workplace and to make minority individuals feel more welcome than otherwise,” says Randee Machina, Director of Marketing at Simpli Pleasures.

Promoting diversity in your marketing materials will also attract a diverse customer base to your brand. Not only is this good for your bottom line, but it’s also great for your employees; they’ll truly feel that they work for a diverse and inclusive brand, and your workplace culture will improve as a result. 

Offer Bias Training and Diversity Education

Despite best efforts, it’s difficult to completely overcome unconscious bias by oneself. To that end, you should offer bias training and diversity education resources for all of your employees, including yourself.

“For example, hiring a diversity expert or inclusivity manager to hold a diversity seminar or bias training session could do wonders for improving inclusivity in the workplace,” says Melissa Rhodes, CEO of Psychics1on1. In some cases, employees may say something that is insensitive or rude to a person who belongs to a minority community or group without realizing it.

Basic bias training or diversity education seminars can help to illuminate these issues, allowing you to eliminate them from the workplace entirely. It’s the first step to fostering a more trustworthy, supportive workplace environment for everyone under your employee, not just those who belong to the majority group.

If group bias training doesn’t feel like enough, offer individual or self-paced diversity education materials, like online tutorials or classes or books explaining the philosophies and statistics behind the benefits of diversity. “Depending on your industry, a multifaceted approach may be necessary to convince all of your employees of the importance of inclusivity and to get them on board with your efforts,” says Bryan Jones, CEO of Truckbase.

Have an Open-Door Policy

As a business owner, it’s important that you maintain an open-door policy for all of your employees, not just those who look or act like you. “An open-door policy is one of the best ways to bolster trust in the workplace environment and to make your employees feel safer overall,” says Gigi Ji, Head of Brand and Business Development at KOKOLU.

With an open-door policy, you:

  • Respond to employee complaints or questions immediately
  • Make time to speak to your employees if they feel they have something important to say
  • Accept feedback the same way they must accept feedback from you regarding their workplace performance

Don’t be a leader who sequesters themselves in their office and who doesn’t really commit to diversity and inclusivity initiatives. Maintain your open-door policy and, if someone from a minority group voices that they feel comfortable, listen to them! Chandler Rogers, CEO of Relay says, “The very nature of diversity means that people aside from you may have valid viewpoints you can learn from.”

Modify and Model Inclusive Language

You should also try to modify your language or model inclusive language both personally and in company materials.

For example, in professional communications like meeting agendas or papers or emails to your workers, try to model inclusive language for your employees by:

  • Using personal pronouns if applicable
  • Referring to spouses or partners instead of gendered husband or wife terms
  • Avoid saying things like, “Alright, men!” if you have a workplace of both men and women
  • And so on

This will necessarily be an ongoing process. If you mess up, and you eventually will, simply apologize and try to do better. “By showing this positive behavior, you’ll inspire your employees to act similarly and improve inclusivity in your workplace over time,” says Chris Coote, CEO of California Honey Vapes.

Expand the Company Holiday Calendar

As your business’s roster expands, not everyone will celebrate the same holidays or require the same time off each year. In fact, it’s the opposite of inclusive to assume that everyone wants to take Christmas vacation at the same time or that everyone celebrates Christmas in the first place!

To promote inclusivity at your business, expand your official company holiday calendar to include other religious holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and so on. You should also enable atheists or those with less common religions to take time off to avoid unintentional favoritism.

“Expanding the holiday calendar is a good way to show that you are committed to giving everyone the same perks and benefits of working for your business regardless of where they come from or what they celebrate,” says Ryan Azimi, Director of International Development at ETIAS.

Remember, if you can make holiday time work for one group of people, you need to be able to make it work for everyone under your employ. If needed, you can schedule your workers with staggered shifts so that some groups work while others take vacation time and vice versa.

Install Multilingual Signage

Another good way to be more inclusive in the workplace is to install multilingual signage throughout your office and warehouse spaces. Not everyone speaks English as a first language in the US, with Spanish and French being common secondary languages depending on your location.

Therefore, installing multilingual signage for bathrooms, snacks, directions to offices or important rooms, and more can do a lot to help people feel more included, especially if they have to struggle with English from time to time.

There’s no downside to promoting multiple languages in the workplace. “After all, learning multiple languages is a sign of intelligence and helps you communicate effectively with people around the world!” says Tony Staehelin, CEO of Benable.

Make Safe Spaces for Minority Employees

Your minority employees may require dedicated safe spaces where they can express themselves or spend time with each other, especially if you’re still trying to diversify your workforce. Allow these safe spaces to form, and offer HR resources to your minority employees if they need them.

Safe spaces for minority employees can be mentally required from time to time, and they can help you understand how you must continue the fight for diversity and inclusivity at your company. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.


As you can see, you can get started building and maintaining a more inclusive workplace in a matter of days or even weeks. But inclusivity starts at the top, so it’s up to you to implement these policies and model them for your managers and workers to emulate. It’ll take some time, but being more inclusive in the workplace will be well worth it in the end!

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