How to create inclusive policies

3 min read  |   3 June, 2022   By Breathe Australia

Many people's hands are shown, reaching out and stacked on top of each other in a star 'team' formation.

Do you know if your organisation has inclusive policies? A third of people don’t know whether their organisation has inclusive LGBTQ+ policies, according to research.

As modern culture evolves steadily for the better towards a more diverse and equal workforce, the time has come to ask the question: how inclusive are our workplaces, really?

What is inclusivity?

Inclusiveness means treating everyone fairly and allowing the same opportunities to all, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, culture or background. Everyone should feel safe, supported and encouraged.

An inclusive environment means that all employees are protected. It also means that everyone’s cultures, beliefs and choices are respected and treated equally.

“Inclusion is about welcoming, developing and advancing a diverse mix of individuals,” according to Ellen Taaffe, assistant professor of leadership and director of women’s leadership at Northwestern University. “It’s about making all people feel valued, including changing practices that might unfairly benefit any one group, and making sure that everyone feels they have the same opportunity to advance and make an impact. Creating that environment is where the real challenge lies.”

Why is inclusivity important?

Inclusivity is important because it allows everyone to feel secure and supported in the workplace.

Ensuring that your business has policies that protect everyone from bullying/harassment and prevent discrimination are important as having a no-tolerance culture when it comes to avoiding these issues.

There are many benefits of encouraging diversity in the workplace. Not being inclusive can harm your workforce, as well as disadvantage your business by negatively impacting your ability to recruit and retain the best people. 

How can I create a fair and inclusive workplace?

  • Consider your culture- are there attitudes or processes that could be seen as outdated? When it comes to opportunities or internal promotions, is there anyone that is being favoured, even unintentionally? Is there any inappropriate humour that has become accepted and ingrained into ‘the way things are done around here’? Discrimination can easily become part of the everyday, so it’s worth examining the culture of your organisation with a fine-toothed comb. Asking someone external to help with this can add objectivity to the process.
  • Ensuring everyone’s contributions are valued equally and not offering advantages to a particular person or group is the first step in creating an inclusive environment at work.
  • Being aware of unconscious bias and being vigilant against it by trying to exclude this from any decision-making is another important step. External resources can help with this if you feel there is more work to be done.

How do I create inclusive policies?

The Diversity Council of Australia offer some resources that provides a great starting point when thinking about creating inclusive policies for your organisation.

McKinsey’s report on how inclusion matters analysed data specific aspects of inclusion and diversity within 1000 companies across 15 countries. Data was gathered by incorporating a ‘social listening’ analysis of employee sentiment via online reviews.

Talk to your employees- and listen to what they have to say. Ensure you follow up and act on the feedback you receive. Creating a policy clearly shows the organisations’ stance on inclusion and fairness, allowing your employees to feel safe and protected at work.

What kind of inclusive policies do I need?

If you’re not sure where to start, start by researching how to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within your organisation. The Diversity Council of Australia offer some resources.

Australian legislation on diversity, equality and inclusion are handled at both a federal and state level - the Human Rights Commission has a good overview of existing legislation with links through to state bodies.

Final thoughts

As we know, culture starts from the top. Continuously educating senior management to champion LGBTQ+ inclusion is essential, according to a report by PWC. Ensuring those who lead your organisation display your inclusive values is important, as this feeds down to the rest of your company and shapes your culture as an organisation.


Author: Breathe Australia

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