How can employers encourage everyday inclusion?

A new report from Business in the Community investigates what initiatives are successful in embedding inclusion into everyday practice.

Mental Health


What works when it comes to developing a more inclusive culture at work?

A new report, ‘Everyday inclusion: What really works?, published by Business in the Community (BITC) in partnership with Santander and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, identifies what it says are proven steps organisations can rely on to make their working culture more inclusive.

The report assesses more than 60 separate peer-reviewed academic studies, the majority of which took place within workplaces and has several recommendations. These include that:

  • Organisations should consider both prevention and promotion when it comes to fostering welcoming work environments;
  • Initiatives should focus on behaviour change, active learning – such as group discussions –  and promote dialogue between different groups.
  • ‘Responsibility structures’ such as employee networks or inclusion taskforces make other diversity initiatives more effective. These can also support staff at times when many employees may feel an increased sense of isolation and loneliness.
  • Get community buy-in by emphasising that respect is everybody’s business and support staff to become active bystanders.
  • Remember that leaders and managers play a crucial role and their interactions especially with wider staff are crucial. The report highlights that many managers are now grappling with leading remote teams for the first time and need support to ensure they do this in a way that does not inadvertently erode inclusion.
  • Corporate communications matter and should celebrate difference.
  • Ensure wider systems are fair and bias free.

The report emphasises that everyday interactions are a crucial part of a wider inclusion policy, embracing recruitment and promotion.

Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Campaign Director at Business in the Community, said: “Even before the pandemic hit, many British workers were experiencing micro aggressions at work, with a knock-on impact on their health and wellbeing. But we also know that it can be hard for employers to stamp out such low-level, pervasive bad behaviour. This research gives organisations the clarity and confidence they need to make sure their culture works for everyone. 2020 has shone a bright light on the divisions that exist between us. It’s time for employers to play their part in healing them.”

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