Creating value with an inclusive workplace

Thursday, April 18, 2024


In today's rapidly evolving workplace landscape, the concept of an inclusive workspace has gained increasing attention. But what exactly is inclusion, and what does it mean in the context of the modern workplace? This blog will explore some aspects of building an inclusive workspace.

Table of contents

  • What is inclusion and what does inclusion mean in the workplace?
  • What contributes to an inclusive workplace?
  • How to empower employees to be more inclusive?
  • Conclusion

What is inclusion and what does inclusion mean in the workplace?

Inclusion involves creating an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. It enables diversity to thrive. In the workplace, inclusion encompasses fostering a culture that celebrates differences and ensures equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their background, identity, or abilities. It enables people to bring their best selves to work.

Inclusive workspace is a fundamental aspect of building a thriving and sustainable organisation. It's about recognising and embracing the richness of diversity within the workforce. The authors of the latest
McKinsey report summarise the importance of diversity and inclusion perfectly by saying that: “Despite a rapidly changing business landscape, the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) not only holds, but grows even stronger.”

The benefits of an inclusive workplace environment

Fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace yields numerous benefits, including enhanced innovation and creativity through the integration of diverse perspectives, improved employee engagement due to a sense of belonging, increased productivity and performance by leveraging individual strengths, and an enhanced reputation and brand image as a socially responsible organisation. Next to that, inclusive environments drive greater innovation and problem-solving by encouraging diverse perspectives and ideas, ultimately leading to more adaptable and successful businesses. And as authors of a Harvard Business Review article note, organisations should also always make the “fairness case” for diversity: a rhetoric that justifies diversity on moral grounds of fairness and equal opportunity”. In this way, having a diverse workforce and creating a culture of inclusion is not just a smart thing to do (due to organisational benefits) but it is also the right thing to do.

What contributes to an inclusive workplace?

Building an inclusive workplace requires intentional effort and commitment from organisational leaders. Leaders have the responsibility to champion diversity but also hold great power in making a lasting impact. Here are some factors that contribute to fostering inclusivity in the workplace:

Leadership commitment

Leadership plays a pivotal role in setting the tone for inclusivity. When leaders demonstrate a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion, it sends a powerful message throughout the organisation. In this RightBrains blog, Jos Groen elaborates on how leaders can focus on honing the skill of listening in order to promote diversity and inclusion.

Diverse representation

Creating diverse teams and leadership structures is essential for fostering inclusion. When employees see people who look like them in positions of power, it promotes a sense of belonging and encourages them to strive for success.

Open communication

Establishing channels for open and honest communication is crucial for creating an inclusive workplace. Employees should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of judgment or reprisal. Create a psychologically safe workplace where people can speak up.

Psychological safety

Leaders play a vital role in fostering psychological safety by promoting open communication, modeling inclusive behaviours, providing support and feedback, addressing conflicts and biases, and creating growth opportunities within their teams. By fostering an environment where individuals feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment, leaders cultivate trust and respect, encouraging collaboration and innovation. Prioritizing psychological safety not only enhances organisational performance but also fosters a culture where all team members feel valued and empowered to contribute their best work.

Training and education

Providing training and educational resources on topics such as unconscious bias (a subconscious attitude that affects the way individuals feel and think about others around them), cultural competency (the ability to participate ethically and effectively in personal and professional intercultural settings), and inclusive leadership can help raise awareness and promote understanding among employees.

Fair policies and practices

Implementing fair and equitable policies and practices ensures that all employees are treated with dignity and respect. This includes addressing issues such as recruitment, pay equity, promotion opportunities, and accommodations for diverse needs, for example.

Diversity metrics

Implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) metrics and holding leaders accountable is crucial for fostering an inclusive workplace culture. Holding leaders accountable by tying their performance evaluations, compensation, and recognition to their success in advancing diversity ensures a top-down commitment to DEI efforts.


How to empower employees to be more inclusive?

Empowering employees to be more inclusive requires fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and accountability. Leaders are responsible for creating an inclusive workplace, but so are the employees. Here are some strategies for promoting inclusivity among staff:

Promote diversity awareness

Provide opportunities for employees to learn about different cultures, perspectives, and lived experiences. This can include cultural celebrations, diversity workshops and training, and guest speakers from diverse backgrounds.

Encourage allyship

Encourage employees to be allies to their colleagues from underrepresented groups. This involves actively listening to their experiences, advocating for their needs, and taking action to address inequities. Teach your employees about privilege and use their privilege to advocate for underrepresented communities.

Lead by example

Leaders should exemplify inclusive behaviour in their actions and decisions. By demonstrating empathy, fairness, and respect for diversity, they set a positive example for others to follow. RightBrains will be hosting a two-day Leadership for Diversity Masterclass for seasoned digital leaders who wish to develop and implement the strategic narrative for diversity within their organisations and make their organisaitons more inclusive. 

Provide resources and support

Offer resources and support networks for employees from underrepresented groups, such as sponsorship and mentorship programmes like the RightBrains Growth and Mentor Programme, employee resource groups, and affinity networks.

Celebrate diversity

Recognise and celebrate the contributions of employees from all backgrounds. This can include highlighting their achievements, sharing their stories, and incorporating diverse perspectives into decision-making processes. By empowering employees to embrace inclusivity, organisations can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for all.


Building an inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do ethically, but also essential for driving business success in today's diverse and dynamic world. By fostering a culture of inclusion, organisations can unlock the full potential of their employees and create a more equitable and sustainable future for all. But remember, an inclusive workplace is not just a goal to achieve; it's a journey of continuous learning. This is a journey that both leaders and employees must take together. The famous American author and disability rights advocate Hellen Keller put it well: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much". And finally, by embracing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and empowering employees to be their authentic selves, organisations can create a workplace where everyone thrives.

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By Milica van Leeuwen Bobic

Milica van Leeuwen Bobic is a contributing author for RightBrains and supports our mission of promoting gender balance in digital technology. Holding two Master's degrees and with years of working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space, she offers a unique perspective on topics like social justice and organisational D&I.