Mar 2 2017

3 Ways to Create an Inclusive Workplace

Signature Consultants General

It’s difficult—if not impossible—to be productive in an uncomfortable or hostile environment. And when one person isn’t performing at their best, the entire team suffers. Not to mention, unhealthy workplaces suffer from high disengagement, poor retention, and low morale.

That’s why it’s in everyone’s best interests to promote an inclusive, welcoming workplace.

Wondering how you can do your part? Read on for three ideas.

1. Be Cautious About Your Language

When possible, try to use gender-neutral language. You never know someone’s personal preferences. Plus, words like “girl,” “boy,” or “lady” can often sound condescending.

Try these alternatives to common gendered words:

Instead of “you guys,” say “y’all” or “everyone.”

Instead of “man” or “woman,” use “person” (if this swap will make your meaning unclear, use their name).

Instead of “he” or “she,” use “they,” or, again, the individual’s name.

You can always make nouns plural as well. For example, rather than saying, “A new user would upload his or her files by clicking this icon,” you could say, “New users will upload their files by clicking this icon.”

Finally, avoid gendered job titles like “salesman” or “cleaning ladies.” Simply exchange the last part for “person,” “people,” or “professionals,” such as “salesperson” or “cleaning professionals.”

2. Join Cultural Organizations

Many companies have a diverse range of clubs and groups devoted to celebrating a specific culture, region, and/or practice. You don’t need to have grown up celebrating that custom to join; in fact, the other members will probably encourage your participation.

Not only will you get the chance to learn about new concepts and beliefs, you’ll support diversity and form ties with coworkers you might not have met otherwise.

3. Practice Universal Respect

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an individual contributor, a manager, or an executive, your behavior impacts your coworkers’ behavior. Kind words and actions typically catalyze additional kind words and actions—if, for example, you listen patiently to your coworker and ask questions to show you’re engaged, they’re likely to do the same with the next person they talk to.

That’s why you shouldn’t underestimate the power of your behavior. Going out of your way to make people feel comfortable and safe in the office can drive enormous change.

Here are five best practices to get you started:

1. Smile and say hi to everyone you see, even when you’re tired or crunched for time.
2. Pledge to let your coworkers speak without interrupting them.
3. When someone suggests a new idea, acknowledge their contribution (even if you don’t agree).
4. Stay alert for any knee-jerk reactions you may have. If you can, hold off on passing judgment or coming to a conclusion until the person has finished explaining their thoughts and answering your questions.
5. Strive to be empathetic. When a coworker is in a difficult situation, imagine how you’d feel and what you would do.

Creating an inclusive workplace isn’t a quick, easy process. On the contrary, it requires thought, care, and commitment—and there’s always more work to be done. Your efforts will make a big difference toward making everyone feel like they belong.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 15th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 25 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.

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