An inclusive workplace is one where employees are engaged with their work and their team—where every person in the room feels comfortable expressing themselves and isn’t afraid to speak up about difficult issues. In turn, these same people feel inspired to innovate and think creatively without fear of ruffling feathers. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, not all workplaces are really like this—despite many thinking that they are. And that all comes down to a company’s working culture. When we hire new people, we tell them what our company culture is rather than asking what they’d like it to be. If someone feels like they don’t ‘fit’ into that environment, they’re less likely to stick around, leaving us with a group of people who all think and work the same way. And that’s a bad thing.
Where we often go wrong…
If you want to build a working culture that encourages inclusivity, then you need to start from the onboarding stage. Onboarding is a big part of building an environment that celebrates diversity, encouraging all new employees to feel as though their opinions are heard and their input matters.
This is a pivotal moment for a new hire. Not only does it introduce them to the organisation and the wider team, but it also sets the tone for what’s to come. And though we like to think we’re doing everything we can to be inclusive and welcoming of new staff, we often forget that it’s not just about processes and filling out forms—it’s about creating connections and helping employees reshape the company culture in a way that works for everyone.
If you want to make your onboarding inclusive, you need to look at the big picture. Be empathetic; we all know what it feels like to be the new person in a room full of people. Ask yourself, what can I, as an employer, do to ensure that my onboarding processes are welcoming to each and every employee I hire?
Here are a few ways to help your new hires feel like they belong right from day one.
1. Let new employees know that inclusion is important to you
An easy way to make all new hires feel welcome is to emphasise your charity’s commitment to diversity and inclusion straight from the get-go. This can be done through a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) onboarding session. The purpose of this is not to instruct, but rather to communicate why your organisation cares about inclusivity. How do you define it? And what are the goals? This helps create an open dialogue and encourages new employees to feel that they can talk openly about diversity and inclusion-related issues.
We recommend sharing any resources you might have on how your employees can get involved in making the workplace more inclusive.
2. Provide a ‘big picture’ overview
It’s easy to forget how overwhelming things can be in the first few days (or weeks) of a new job. That’s why you should try to go out of your way to make your new employee feel like they’re ‘in the know’, avoiding any danger of them feeling left out.
We recommend sharing your team’s current roadmaps or strategies as well as an organisational chart that says who is who and how responsibilities are distributed and shared. Doing this will make your new employee feel more comfortable and less intimidated in navigating their new workplace.
3. Make sure the team is prepared for their arrival
Inclusivity isn’t about inducting new employees into an existing company culture. Rather, it expands that culture to incorporate the fresh perspectives your new hire will bring. That’s why it’s so important to work with your existing team to ensure a smooth integration of your new employee.
Why not run a workshop on accommodating different communication styles? Or maybe schedule some team bonding activities for your new hire’s first week. Always encourage feedback and respond to input, ensuring the whole team is as invested in your charity’s culture as you are.
4. Empower your managers to be D&I leaders
More often than not, the hiring manager plays a big part in whether someone accepts a job offer. They can also influence someone’s decision to stay in a job long-term. That’s why it’s so crucial to equip your managers with the tools to advocate for every single one of their employees, no matter their background.
Consider running regular management training to ensure that your leadership team is equipped to lead D&I initiatives at your organisation.
5. Build a mentorship programme
Not only is this a quick way to get your new employees up to speed, but it also helps them build relationships right from day one. And it shows that you’re choosing to invest in your new hire’s professional development.
A mentoring culture is one that nurtures deeper working relationships and places value on development. But even more than that, it helps the wider organisation understand that differences aren’t just seen, they’re valued.
Ultimately, it’s all about making someone feel welcome and part of the team. By going out of your way to be inclusive during the onboarding stage, you’re inspiring better innovation, engagement and retention, which is good for your bottom line. Do what you can to set your employees up for success. You’ll see the benefits for years to come.
Need more advice on how to build a more inclusive recruitment process? Download our new guide, Diversity in Recruitment: An Inclusive Hiring Guide for the Charity Sector today.