Your Role as a Manager in an Inclusive Workplace
A workplace that promotes inclusion gains true value from its diverse workforce. An inclusive manager values diversity. They know that ethnicity, race, culture, religion and beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, and ability are valuable attributes of an individual’s identity. Inclusive managers are committed to abolishing stereotypes and recognize the value of different perspectives. As an inclusive manager, you should always be looking for ways to promote inclusion.
It’s easy to spot an inclusive workplace. Just look for an environment where every individual is treated equally and with dignity and respect, where the talents and skills of different groups are valued, and where productivity and customer service improve because the workforce feels valued, more motivated, and more aware of the benefits that inclusion can bring.
We have formal policies and practices in our company to promote inclusion in the workplace. You need to follow them if they are to be effective. For example, we have policies around dealing with discrimination, bullying, and harassment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; and procedures dealing with tensions between different groups.
Learning about the cultural backgrounds, lives, and interests of employees builds relationships through increased understanding and trust. Creating opportunities for staff to interact outside of work helps employees to feel more comfortable with each other, which promotes creativity and innovation within teams.
When employees cannot freely express their identity for fear of retaliation, this creates a closed environment that can result in low staff morale, increased absenteeism, and decreased productivity and retention. Managers play an important role in maintaining a culture of inclusion and creating open and effective channels of communication.
Bryson is considering a transfer because he is the only male on the team. You invite him to lunch to discuss his feelings.
- To learn about his interests so you can identify similarities he may use to build relationships with his female colleagues.
- To investigate his concerns in detail so you have the correct facts before deciding to consider disciplinary proceedings.
- To encourage him to try harder to fit in by discussing ways in which he can impress the women on his team so they include him more.
Actively support inclusion by encouraging a diverse group of employees to learn about their colleagues. Recognize similarities, and use them to build relationships, while respecting each other’s differences.
Two weeks later, Bryson says his relationship with his female colleagues has not improved. You ask June, another department member, and she says Bryson is distant and has declined social contact and invitations to join them for lunch. How should you proceed now?
- Organize a department outing that includes icebreakers for Bryson and the team to help them get to know each other.
- Ask June for some specific examples. Then talk to Bryson to discuss this feedback and get his perspective on the situation.
- Tell June she has a responsibility to make Bryson feel welcome.
- Begin processing Bryson’s transfer because you are concerned about the effect this will have on the department.
You are responsible for providing opportunities for staff to interact, inside and sometimes outside of work. This should help them learn about the lives and interests of their colleagues, which builds relationships and fosters inclusion.
- Know that ethnicity, race, nationality, origins, culture, religion and beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, and ability are valuable attributes of an individual’s identity and that innate differences should be recognized and respected.
- Support inclusion by encouraging diverse employees to learn about their colleagues, recognize similarities, and use them to build relationships, while respecting each other’s differences.
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