How to Support Inclusive Behavior at Work


How to support inclusive behavior at work

Research shows that inclusive workplaces promote belonging, encourage innovation and increase productivity. Research by Deloitte shows that inclusive organizations are twice as likely achieve or surpass their financial goals. They are six times more likely than others to be innovative, six times more likely that they will anticipate and respond to changes and six times as likely to be more effective in implementing them.

True inclusion is not a matter of lip service. Employees who lack trust in the organization’s efforts can feel unsafe and unsecure. Understanding the differences between inclusive and non-inclusive behavior is essential to make inclusion a part of your company’s DNA.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is about belonging. Your organization must not only commit to hiring, promoting, and equitably compensating diverse employees. Your company must show employees that it values diversity and equity in order to reap the benefits of equity and diversity.

Inclusive behavior in the Workplace

Inclusive behavior creates a supportive environment for all members of your team. These are:

Recognizing Others

Take the time to get to know your employees and pay particular attention to their preferences for recognition. Not everyone likes to be the center of attention in large meetings. Others might prefer to say a private thank you or have coffee at their local café.

Examining Biases

Training or exercises can help you and the team uncover unconscious biases. Deconstructing bias can be a difficult and personal task. You must take responsibility for examining your assumptions and learning about the barriers to inclusion such as microaggressions or non-inclusive languages.

Resource Sharing

Your employees should have access to the right technology, learning, and social resources. Your team can connect with employee resource groups (ERGs), online learning, and other benefits that will allow them to be their best self in the workplace.

Workers are constantly overwhelmed with information. Do not assume your message has made it through the torrent. Reach out to your team and explain the resources they require, when they are needed.

Black female employee feels excluded from the office

What is non-inclusive behavior in the workplace?

Non-inclusive behaviors don’t require malice. You might be doing the following:

Failing to be Intentional

Don’t make the same mistakes as asking for feedback before you start initiatives, or without asking employees what they want to see. You must promote new programs. Don’t assume they will come if you create them. Avoid assuming employees are comfortable talking about issues like race, gender, disability, and sexuality at work.

Neglecting Disruptive Employees

Research has shown that 19% of employees have been victims of bullying at work, and another 19% are aware of the problem.

In a situation such as this, the worst thing a manager could do is to ignore the problem. Leaders need to address bullying and other harmful behaviors, and then commit to prevent future problems by encouraging communication and training. Invite your team members to share their experiences with bullying and other toxic behaviors.

Employees practice inclusive behavior at work. Female and male colleagues sit at the table to allow wheelchair access

Use Exclusive Language

Words are important. Language can foster belonging or create the opposite. You can ensure your language is inclusive by creating an environment where learning is encouraged and expected. When referring to employees with disabilities, you should use the people-first language (e.g. It is better to use “teammates with disabilities” than “disabled colleagues”

How to incite inclusive behavior

Be inclusive and set an example for others. Also, make sure to incorporate these behaviors into your company’s culture.


Active listening is a way to hear and amplify diverse voices within your team. This will allow you to gain the benefit of each perspective. Even better, listening to your team will demonstrate that you care about them and build trust.

Create a sense of community

Encourage team members to build relationships with one another in informal settings as well as more formal settings such as ERGs or mentorship relationships. Showing curiosity and compassion for the lives and workof team members builds allyship. Employees should be able to connect and bond with one another. Research has shown that employees who have a friend at work are more likely to be engaged than those who don’t.

Integrate Into KPIs

Identify the root causes of inequalities and set goals to support real change. This learning module by PwC, for example, focuses on gender inequity and not just the diversity of leadership. Inclusion is quickly made obsolete if it’s not integrated into the organization’s bigger goals. We all know that what isn’t measured doesn’t get done.

Two women from different backgrounds worked on a project at the workplace.

Real inclusion is about being open to receiving feedback and building programs that benefit employees. As you learn, be open to changing your approach.