small business owner fostering an inclusive workplace

How to build a more inclusive business

If you’re a small business owner, fostering inclusivity isn’t just a moral imperative, it’s also a smart business strategy. Fostering an inclusive workplace creates a culture in which everyone can thrive.      

As we recognize Pride Month, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on some ways in which businesses can create a more inclusive environment for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.  

But first, let’s break down some terms.

Although these words are closely linked, they’re not the same, and it’s important to understand the distinction. Pride at Work, an organization that empowers Canadian employers to build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation, defines them like this:

Diversity is about ensuring you have people of different backgrounds and experiences represented in the workplace. Inclusiveness takes it a step further by creating an environment where people’s differences of thought and experience are actually appreciated and viewed as a business advantage.”

Creating a workplace where inclusiveness is celebrated, and everyone feels welcome has a number of benefits:

Better employee engagement and satisfaction

When people feel valued and respected for who they are, they are more likely to be engaged, productive and committed to their work.

Expanded market reach

By embracing diversity and inclusion, small business can better connect with diverse customer segments and build stronger relationships with their clientele.

Attain and retain top talent

Inclusive workplaces are more attractive to job seekers, and allow businesses to differentiate themselves as employers of choice, attracting top talent and reducing turnover rates.

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion found that 29% of 2SLGBTQIA+ respondents have experienced discrimination in the workplace (source).

1. Develop a culture of inclusion

The best way to show support for diversity and inclusion is to make it part of your organizational structure. This includes providing a budget for things like training and inclusive benefits. Consider hosting workshops or inviting guest speakers to facilitate discussions on topics like unconscious bias or allyship. Take a hardline stance on 2SLGBTQIA+ discrimination, and ensure appropriate behaviours are modelled at all levels of your organization – especially leadership.

2. Review your policies and practices

Make sure you have a formal policy that outlines your position and put it in writing. Assess your company’s policies and practices to ensure they are inclusive. Consider reviewing your hiring practices to minimize bias, implementing inclusive language in all communications, and offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate diverse needs.

Consider offering specialty benefits to provide financial stability for people who may not have the added cushion of support from their families, including paid parental leave for all types of parents.

3. Create a safe and supportive environment

Foster a workplace where individuals feel safe to be their authentic selves. This could mean implementing zero-tolerance policies for discrimination and harassment, establishing employee resource groups for underrepresented communities, and providing training on respectful communication.

4. Celebrate diversity

Embrace diversity as a strength and celebrate the unique backgrounds and perspectives of your team members.

5. Seek feedback and take action

Actively seek feedback from your employees on how to improve inclusivity within your business. Listen attentively to their concerns and suggestions, and take concrete steps to address any issues that arise. Inclusivity is an ongoing journey, and it takes continuous effort and commitment.

At Richardson Wealth, our commitment to diversity and inclusivity is one of our core values. It reflects how we act and direct our daily corporate decisions. We are devoted to providing an inclusive, diverse, caring and welcoming culture at our firm, allowing all our employees, partners and clients to feel safe, respected and empowered to be themselves. Read more about us and our ongoing partnership with Pride at Work.

Looking for more resources?

Read Pride at Work’s diversity guide for businesses – it outlines the top twelve strategies to meet the needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the workplace.

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