Inclusivity is an important part of running a successful business and many people are learning to embrace its value. People from different walks of life and varying demographics contribute to a versatile and well-rounded team, so it’s important to make sure that diversity is a key aspect of your workplace culture. Take a look at these commonly overlooked concerns that prevent your business from being more inclusive so that you can take action as needed.
One of the most common barriers to maintaining a truly inclusive workplace is a lack of accessibility. People with disabilities may have special requirements when it comes to the dimensions and layout of certain features in your building, and every effort should be made to provide an accessible work environment. Common building requirements for people with disabilities include wider corridors and doorways, along with ramps to provide easy access for those who use wheelchairs. Other easy adjustments, such as repositioning tables in office kitchens to allow more convenient wheelchair access to the refrigerator and sink, should also be included. Additionally, make sure you leave room in your company budget for assistive technology such as braille displays and text-to-audio programs in case your next hire needs them.
Unfortunately, while sexual harassment is more openly discussed by the public than it used to be, we still have a long way to go in eliminating and preventing it within the workplace. Less conventional forms of sexual harassment, in particular, still persist. Sexual harassment can take many forms, including a hostile work environment created by repeated and unwanted comments, jokes, or advances. Quid pro quo is another form of sexual harassment that involved coercing an employee into sexual acts with either threats or promises of work-related rewards. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone in the workplace regardless of factors such as gender, age, or orientation. In 2011, 16.3 percent of sexual harassment claims were filed by men, though that number may be inaccurately low since men tend not to report such incidences. Claims from any and all demographics should be regarded equally seriously.
Automatically assuming things about people can not only communicate a disregard or disrespect for their individual identity but can reinforce limiting stereotypes in the workplace. Even if you think you can deduce something related to an employee’s personal identity or skill level, play it safe and ask! Common examples of assumptions that you should never make about employees include those related to gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or age. For instance, you should ask new employees what their preferred pronouns are instead of assuming anything based on their appearance. You should also ask them which religious holidays they take off rather than assuming what they celebrate. The principle of asking rather than assuming also applies to an employee’s ability to perform tasks in light of factors such as age. Don’t assume, for example, that an older employee is less able to perform programming or technology-based tasks than their younger counterparts.
Inclusivity is crucial to a well-rounded, effective work team and a healthy work environment. In order to make sure your workplace is inclusive, take active steps to fix issues related to accessibility for disabled persons, all forms of sexual harassment, and invasive assumptions based on employees’ identities, skill levels, and beliefs.
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