Best Practices for Building an Inclusive Workplace

by Marina Plume, 5 minutes read
HOME blog best practices for building an inclusive workplace

Building a thriving workplace means building an environment that is safe, fair, flexible, and inclusive for all. While it may feel difficult to know where to start, there are some best practices that are simple to implement yet have a significant impact on your work environment’s inclusivity. 

Respecting Pronouns And Gender Identity

Being mindful of pronouns and making a conscious effort to address peers as they’d like to be addressed builds inclusion and equity in the workplace. It is important to remember that not everyone identifies with “she/her” or “he/him” pronouns, and using “they/them” pronouns whenever possible can help foster a culture of inclusivity. 

If you feel comfortable sharing the pronouns you use, consider including them on your name badge. And if your team uses digital tools to communicate, encourage those who feel comfortable to share their pronouns in their profile information. Within Deputy, workplaces can enable the option to display pronouns and display gender on team members’ profiles. By creating a path to self-identification, these processes help alleviate stress around what can be a nerve-wracking topic for some to discuss or remind others about. 

To ensure all team members feel respected, welcomed, and understood, be mindful of the fact that individuals may not feel comfortable identifying their pronouns or gender. A culture of inclusion means being open to learning from each others’ journeys while being respectful of privacy and personal boundaries.  

Using Preferred/Chosen Names

A preferred name often refers to a nickname, while a chosen name typically refers to the name that affirms one’s gender identity. Using a person’s preferred or chosen name at work helps create belonging and engagement. When welcoming new team members, consider asking if there’s another name they go by to ensure the team addresses them appropriately. 

In communicating as a team, both in-person and digitally, it is important to create the opportunity for team members who wish to share their preferred or chosen name to do so. This help page walks through how to allow users to identify a preferred or chosen name to be displayed in Deputy that is separate from their legal name used for payroll.

Using Inclusive Language in Communications

Inclusive language is, according to Deloitte, “the recognition that words matter and that word choice can be used, intentionally or unintentionally, to include or exclude others.” For example, addressing your staff as “guys,” “gals,” “ladies,” or “gentlemen” can make some team members feel excluded. Consider instead addressing the team as “everyone,” “you all,” or simply “team.” It’s a really simple change that can have a positive impact. 

Using inclusive language goes beyond the use of gender-neutral terms and involves an ongoing effort of education and reflection. It is also essential to be conscious of colloquial phrases or expressions and terms related to race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, mental condition, and ability. 

Making a dedicated effort to understand the historical context of the language we use, being open to feedback, and listening to others’ perspectives are steps toward communicating more inclusively and effectively. Consider sharing an inclusive language guide with your team and creating opportunities for team members to anonymously share feedback on language usage in your workplace. 

Upholding Fairness in Scheduling and Flexibility

The nature of shift work can involve working different shifts or scheduled hours from one week or month to another. However, it is important to remember that all team members deserve fair, flexible working schedules that allow them the opportunity to do their best work. 

Empowering all employees with the tools they need to create work-life balance is critical to staff engagement. The time of day that employees feel most productive varies by the individual, and employees may have commitments outside of work that affect their availability. 

Set your team up with a path to healthy integration between work and their personal lives. Create streamlined processes for requesting time off or sick leave and setting unavailability. Within Deputy, team members can swap shifts or offer shifts to other available team members, ensuring that if something comes up, the process is as quick and easy as possible for all involved. 

To help create predictability for employees, certain cities, states, and industries have laws that specify how far in advance employees must receive their schedules. Affected employers in some cities also have obligations to provide adequate rest between shifts, pay compensation for last-minute changes, and award open shifts to existing employees before hiring new staff. 

Compliance with fair scheduling legislation is good for employee engagement and good for business. To find out more about how to simplify compliance in your workplace, check out this page

Offering Training & Education

Unconscious and implicit biases exist in every workplace and have been found to negatively impact engagement, retention, and innovation

Empower your employees to continually learn with training and educational resources. Tools like EdApp can be integrated into your workplace’s Deputy account to deploy self-paced mobile learning to your team and allow employees to explore different learning opportunities. Consider kicking off your learning journey by checking out EdApp’s DE&I learning course with actionable steps to create a more inclusive workplace.  

Creating a Safe Space for Honest Feedback 

Creating safe spaces and opportunities for regular feedback helps ensure all team members feel empowered to share candid, straightforward input and observations.

When building feedback culture in the workplace, it is important to create opportunities for both positive and negative feedback. Lead by example — thank team members for a job well done or shout out a positive customer interaction that stood out, then encourage others to do the same. To help take the pressure off of employees who may have feedback that they prefer to share privately, offer routine opportunities for feedback through different channels. For example, you could offer time slots for team members to meet 1:1 with management or collect feedback digitally. 

Allowing staff to share feedback after their shift ends, instantly and anonymously, is now easier than ever before and helps build a welcoming, safe environment for all employees. Creating an official process for escalating workplace issues to follow up to any concerns raised helps foster trust and helps assure employees that your workplace prioritizes accountability, learning, and growth. 

Closing Thoughts 

At Deputy, we believe that safety, fairness, flexibility, transparency, and inclusion strengthen workplace culture to enable the creation of thriving workplaces in every community. 

Respecting pronouns, gender identity, and preferred/chosen names helps ensure that employees feel empowered to be their full, authentic selves at work. Businesses that make a conscious, ongoing effort to use inclusive language, create equal opportunity for work-life balance flexibility, and uphold fairness in the workplace build trust with employees and see long-term benefits in return through higher employee engagement. 

When building out practices to make inclusion a pillar of your workplace’s culture, remember that it is an ongoing journey. Be transparent with your team, and encourage them to join you in continually learning and growing through training and feedback. Building inclusive workplaces for all helps create an engaged, happy, more productive workforce.