Signs you need to make your team more inclusive

boardroom of diverse people, diversity, black inclusion, successful leaderDiversity and Inclusion – two words which ten years ago very few people had heard of but in 2021 these two words are used everywhere.

However, a lot of people do not understand what they mean and how to truly achieve diversity or truly achieve inclusion.

The most famous way of describing Diversity and Inclusion goes as follows: Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance. I feel differently. In order to obtain true inclusion, you need to be at that party and not feel that you are just able to dance but feel comfortable to dance however you want to without feeling judged.

Below are some questions to ask yourself and your wider team to assess whether you are truly inclusive or whether it’s time to make your team more inclusive and reap the benefits of an inclusive team. My advice would be not to wait to try and rectify this. The longer you wait the harder it will be. With inclusion it is so much better to be proactive rather than being reactive. However, it is so important that you understand that one or two big initiatives will not change or rectify everything. If you want to truly make an inclusive culture for your team this will need a long-term commitment to both the big initiatives as well as the day-to-day initiatives.

Below are some of these long-term commitments and day to day initiatives which you can implement to your business to ensure you build an inclusive team.

When you first come to look to recruit ask yourself do you have balanced slates for recruitment? A balanced slate shows equality. You are bringing the same number of men and women or diverse talent to the interview process to give everyone as equal a chance as possible.

Do your job descriptions have gendered language? You may not even realise that this is the case, as many do not. However, language like authoritative, leader, or even talking about the need that they must be able to travel are all biases towards men. A great example of some free software which you can use is TEXTIO to help check over your job descriptions to ensure there is no gendered language.

Ban Culture fit as a reason for not hiring someone. As a reason for not hiring someone the excuse of not being a “Culture fit” is the exact opposite of what it means to be inclusive. In order to be truly inclusive, you need everyone to be able to feel that they can bring their full authentic selves to work and by feeling they have to fit into a culture you are doing the exact opposite. We need to think more holistically now about who is in the organisation and what each person individually can bring to the table. That means we need multiple skill sets and multiple personas who may be very different to what you had originally thought was needed in the company. We need to learn to celebrate difference and if there is one culture fit for all we are moulding people which is everything that Inclusion isn’t.

Talk about what you want the role to achieve not what skills are needed. Women are 16% less likely than men to apply to a job after viewing it and women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men. Research has concluded that in order for a woman to apply for a role she feels the need to meet 100% of the criteria but men only feel the need to meet approximately 60%.

Ensure that you offer true flexibility in working styles. I do think that COVID-19 will have helped many employers see that flexible working does work and provides many people especially people with young or elderly dependents true flexibility to carry out their work in a way which is beneficial to them and the employer. Ensure that you have a flexible working policy and that you have an HR department that can help employees with issues around flexible working. Research shows that 87% of people want to work flexibly but only 11% of jobs are advertised as being flexible and if you ever needed any more convincing that flexible working would work for your company then how about this: flexible workers are more likely to be engaged and potentially generate 43% more revenue and increase performance by 20%.

Is Diversity and Inclusion something that is spoken about and managed in performance conversations? If not, then this is another sign that you may need to make your team more inclusive. If Diversity and Inclusion is not spoken about in these conversations and more generally in the workplace then employees will not believe that this is taken seriously. Therefore, anyone who does not feel included will most likely end up either not feeling motivated and therefore not producing the work you need or eventually leaving. Ensure that you have clear messaging to your team around Diversity and Inclusion and that this is followed up in performance conversations. This is especially important or line mangers to understand and be upskilled in as they have the important job of bringing a team along with them and if it is not inclusive you will not get the best out of the team.

Ultimately, creating an inclusive team is all about listening. Listening to your team and ensuring everyone is heard, and feels that they can dance however they want without being judged!

Esther MarshallAbout the author

Esther Marshall is a Diversity and Inclusion expert, mental health activist and the author of the The Sophie Says children’s books series – which make life’s most important lessons fun to learn.



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