Engaging and Retaining: Inclusion

Have you ever entered a new environment and felt that you stood out, or didn’t fit in?

Women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2+ people, newcomers, visible minorities and persons with disabilities may join a team at your organization where they are the “only one”.

This can lead to feelings of isolation, pressure to “fit in”, and sometimes daily experiences of microaggressions—the subtle, and often unconscious snubs or slights that can demean and devalue an individual.

A study of women in Canadian workplaces36 found that, compared to women working in a more gender-balanced environment, “women onlys” feel less included. They are far more likely to have their abilities challenged, to be subjected to unprofessional and demeaning remarks, and to feel they cannot talk about their personal lives at work.  At the VP level, women report being five times more likely than men to have to prove their competence, three times more likely to be addressed in a less-than-professional manner, and three times more likely to hear demeaning remarks.

Creating an empowering work environment, where employees at all levels have the skills to demonstrate and reinforce inclusive behaviours on an everyday basis is critical to countering exclusion.

Are all stakeholders in your organization skilled in the inclusive behaviours required to maintain a positive work environment?

Tackling behaviours that exclude is critical to fostering inclusion

Set the Tone: Take an active part in and champion organizational diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, use available flexible work options, and be open about your own differences.

Call Out/Disrupt Bias: Challenge biased communications or behaviours when they arise, to make them visible to others and demonstrate that there are consequences for disrespect.

Dialogue Across Differences: Acknowledge differences and how they influence our experiences; regularly talk about DEI–including the sometimes-difficult conversations–while acknowledging others’ lived experience.

Actively Listen and Stimulate New Ideas: Invite diverse perspectives to the table and make it safe for team members to speak up and challenge each other.

Leaders have a crucial role in setting the tone for, and role-modelling, a culture of everyday inclusion. Benefits range from helping people feel comfortable coming forward to self-identify, suggest new ideas and openly share their experiences in the workplace, to empowering them to resolve issues informally.

Managing Inclusively

Everyone can play a role in creating an inclusive, collaborative environment. Having the skills for everyday inclusion empowers employees to speak up for themselves, and gives them the confidence to work with others who are different from them.

Collaborating Inclusively

Be intentionally inclusive and a champion for an inclusive organization.

Inclusion Tips for HR Professionals

Seven techniques for calling out bias and microaggressions. Choose the one(s) comfortable for you, and appropriate for the context. The most important thing is to speak up.

Techniques for Calling Out Bias

The impacts of feeling different at work

A Catalyst study of over 700 Canadian visible minority women and men identified a link between feeling different from peers at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity, being on guard to experiences of bias, and detrimental effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work. It found that Black, East Asian, and South Asian professionals who are highly “on guard” for bias have a dangerously high intent to quit, ranging from 50% to 69%. But researchers also found a way that Canadian employers can start to counter this alarming number: creating empowering work environments for their employees.37