In our first Inclusion blog, we identified what inclusive workplaces were and the essential nature of implementing inclusiveness with diversity. In the ideal world, personality types, strengths and characteristics are embraced and valued, promoting maximum mental and emotional wellbeing of all workers. In the real world, each business will encounter a range of barriers to creating a truly inclusive environment. This blog will examine a range of barriers as well as examine the benefits of inclusiveness.
Negative behaviours and attitudes to diversity within the workplace can damage working relationships, morale as well as work productivity. These barriers to inclusivity are:
Discrimination can come in two forms – direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is when a person or group of people are treated with less favour than others purely because of their culture, background and personality traits. Indirect discrimination is when unreasonable rules or policies are applied whereby some people are disadvantaged due to a shared personal characteristic1. Some forms of discrimination are illegal and can put businesses into a position where they may face legal action2.
Individuals within a work group may be over-confident and emit an air of superiority, causing conflict within the team. Behaviours can include ignoring others, clashing, deliberately talking over the top of individuals, and talking down to particular staff they perceive as a threat or an opponent3. This may irritate and cause conflict within certain members of the team leading to potential clashes and general discomfort within the team.
Our conscious and unconscious biases will influence the way that we perceive and treat others who may be different to ourselves. Prejudices feature in a range of areas such as age, gender, social status, wealth, ethnicity even down to the way we look4. Prejudicial behaviours and attitudes lead to discrimination.
Put simply, ethnocentrism is one person’s belief that their own ethnicity and culture are superior to those of others. Individuals within the organisation may tend to look at the world primarily from their own cultural perspective, therefore working against the values of inclusiveness5. It is not only a barrier to inclusive workplaces but also brings about unnecessary clashes within the team.
These barriers not only impede a business’ ability to create an inclusive culture, but they foster an unhealthy, negative atmosphere adversely affecting the wellbeing of those to whom the behaviour and attitudes are directed to. It can lead to high staff turnover, absence from work, wellbeing issues and division within the business. Furthermore, it may possibly injure a business’ finances, market and ability to tap into valuable talent pools if perceived outsiders as fostering discriminatory and unhealthy workplaces.
Benefits of Inclusive Workplaces
The benefits of encouraging inclusiveness in workplaces are diverse and contribute to the individual employee’s wellbeing. These include:
- Communal sharing – an inclusive culture will promote respect within the organisation, whereby individuals will be supported in sharing their ideas and knowing they will be valued
- Value and belonging – creating inclusive environments and incentives (such as flexible workplace initiatives) will allow individuals to feel valued by the business for their unique skills and talents, as well as feel accepted within the team no matter what their culture, background, personality and other differences may be
- Safe and Open Environment – encouraging team members to share their ideas, opinions, backgrounds and the like and embracing these differing ideas repetitively will create a sense of trust with each member of the company – they will feel feel safe to provide their voice and discuss different ideas openly
- Employee Empowerment – employees are given the ability to acquire skills and development, helping them feel empowered and allow them to grow6,7.
Each of these opportunities creates a positive sense of mental and emotional wellbeing, encourages commitment to the company as well as a sense of teamwork oriented towards a common goal for good.
- Australian Human Rights Commission, “Discrimination”, https://humanrights.gov.au/quick-guide/12030 accessed 25 August 2020
- Green, Lopez, Wysocki, Kepner, “Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and
the Required Managerial Tools”, University of Florida IFAS extension, February 2012, accessed 26 August 2020
- Sinha, “Workplace Clashes”, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/workplace-clashes-nidhi-sinha/, 9 September 2015, accessed 27 August 2020
- Swart, Tara, “5 Facts about Prejudices at Work”, 21 May 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/taraswart/2018/05/21/prejudice-at-work/#69cf10111c1a, accessed 26 August 2020
- Santhanam, Prakash, “Curb your Ethnocentrism”, 15 May 2012, https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-talent-management/articles/curb-your-ethnocentrism, accessed 26 August 2020
- Malakyan, Schlak, Wang, “Diverse Personalities, Egos, Roles, and
Relations: Toward Workplace Wellbeing”, pages 1 and 2
- Jenkins, Ryan, “Here are the Benefits of Inclusion and how to Create an Inclusive Culture”, 18 June 2018, https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/here-are-benefits-of-inclusion-how-to-create-an-inclusive-culture.html, accessed 26 August 2020.