How to create an inclusive workplace culture as a business owner
How to create an inclusive workplace culture as an entrepreneurial business owner
Inclusive change within any organization starts from the top down, making leadership support imperative to successfully facilitating an open and inclusive work environment.
As a business owner, if you want to ensure that your business always feels inclusive and that you have a team of people from different backgrounds and varied life experiences, that’s something only you can implement. It doesn’t happen by accident, and your business will suffer if you fail to get it right. You will need to learn how to create an inclusive workplace culture, and as part of that learning process, you need to understand some of the most common challenges you’re likely to face as you strive to create a more inclusive business as an entrepreneur and business owner.
Before we explore these common challenges it is important to remind ourselves what we mean by the word diversity.
Diversity is about recognizing, respecting, and valuing differences based on age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. In addition to those differences, a diverse workplace also includes an infinite range of unique individual characteristics and life experiences, such as communication style, life experience, educational background, marital status, parental status, and other variables that influence personal perspectives.
As an entrepreneur, you might have to break through systematic and structural inequalities, including structural racism and gender inequality, that is seemingly beyond your control. That doesn’t mean you can’t go against the grain and do things differently, though. If you just follow the same model as every other business in your industry, however, you might end up replicating some of those same inequalities and problems that already exist elsewhere.
Ensuring there’s space for diversity of thought
When you’re looking to create a more inclusive work environment, you want to experience the benefits that come with such a workplace. It’s not just about backgrounds and things like that; it’s also about diversity of thought. It’s something that definitely matters a lot as it ensures that as you make decisions or come up with new ideas, you get perspectives of many different kinds.
Read more: Workplaces need to embrace Neurodiversity
Training staff to build inclusivity
Staff training in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is something that’s always going to be important when it comes to creating a truly inclusive workplace. It’s your task to ensure that people understand why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important. Training people will also help them to develop and understand how to operate within an inclusive and positive work environment. And part of building that environment includes creating an autism-friendly workplace to harness the positive strengths of neurodiversity in the workplace. You can use third party training services if you don’t feel capable of doing this in-house.
Knowing how to create an inclusive workplace culture isn’t about ticking boxes.
Complacency and a ‘Business as Usual’ mindset
One thing that lots of business owners run into when things are going quite well is complacency. It’s very easy to start getting complacent when things are going well, but they could always be better. And if you start adopting a ‘business as usual' mindset, you’ll slip into outdated habits. If you want to ensure you never get complacent, get inspired by successful people who keep pushing for more, such as Chris Ovitz Entrepreneur.
Read more: How to make job descriptions more inclusive
Recognizing your own shortcomings
Some entrepreneurial business owners can stand out as a little too confident in their abilities when building an inclusive workplace. Of course, confidence is important, and it shouldn’t be ignored. But to be successful as an entrepreneur looking to create an inclusive environment, it’s important to also recognize your shortcomings and things you’re not quite succeeding at yet. You must also learn to recognize your own internal biases and prejudices. That’s the only way to keep on improving. We all must look at our weaknesses and consider ways to improve.
Include diversity in your brand
While it is all too often that companies will use diversity in their brand and not much beyond that, diversity inclusion is always important, and the opposite approach of having no diverse bodies in your branding is much worse. This includes not just your advertising but your merchandising as well. Work with companies like Dynamic Gift apparel to ensure that you’re able to get the full supply of inclusive merchandise and “employee swag” that can show that you really do want to include more diverse bodies in your company, not just in your marketing.
Include diversity in your brand
While it is all too often that companies will use diversity in their branding and not much beyond that. Inclusion is always important, and the opposite approach of having no diverse bodies in your branding is much worse. This includes not just your advertising but your diversity and inclusion merchandising as well.
Work with companies like URevolution to ensure that you get the full supply of inclusive merchandise and “diversity and inclusion swag” to show that you want to include more diverse bodies in your company, not just in your marketing.
Knowing how to create an inclusive workplace culture isn’t about ticking boxes. It is about creating a workplace that reflects the wider community and makes the most of all the diverse talent that’s out there. And remember, if you embrace diversity but ignore disability, you're doing it wrong.
In the end, a truly inclusive workplace serves your business best and enables you to get the most from each individual on your team.
Jessica White, the author of "How to create an inclusive workplace culture as a business owner," holds a MA in feminist literature and an MBA. She wrote a successful personal mental health blog on Blogger for a long time before establishing and managing a successful e-commerce store for over ten years before selling it. Jessica lives with a chronic neurological condition and is semi-retired. When she is not killing Cuban tree frogs, she works part-time as a DEI management consultant and writer.