What is an inclusive workplace?


What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

  • Age,
  • disability,
  • gender reassignment,
  • marriage and civil partnership,
  • pregnancy and maternity,
  • race,
  • religion or belief,
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation.

Your diversity statistics may say that you’re bucking this national trend, but that doesn’t automatically mean that your workplace is inclusive (see below).

What is workplace inclusion?

“The culture in which the mix of people can come to work, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, and work in a way that suits them and delivers your business or service needs. Inclusion will ensure that everyone feels valued and, importantly, adds value.”

So, a diverse workforce may represent disabled people, but an inclusive organisation enables everyone to feel comfortable and confident and to bring their best, authentic selves to work.

  • Individual workplace inclusion relates to feelings of belonging, having a voice and being valued for individual and authentic skills and abilities
  • Organisational workplace inclusion involves valuing difference, allowing all employees the opportunity to develop, participate and use their voice to effect change, irrespective of their background.

Meryl Evans CPACC, a leading voice in disability advocacy, describes the difference as follows: “What makes a good inclusive workplace is that employees have all the tools to thrive in their careers. Diversity is bringing in people. But it doesn’t mean they have the tools and support to thrive. True inclusion does,” Meryl Evans.

Now we know what good looks like, how can HR leaders enable it?

Authenticity: enabling self-disclosure in the workplace

Valuing the uniqueness of all employees demands a culture where individuals are “able to be authentic and “Feel like they can be themselves, regardless of whether they are different or share many similarities with their colleagues,” says CIPD in a report. Otherwise, “individuals could feel like they need to engage in ‘surface acting’ or cover their identities,” added CIPD.

  • 13% of employees have a visible disability, such as using a wheelchair
  • 62% reported that their disability is invisible.

According to the Harvard Review, disclosing aspects of identity makes for a happier workforce. For example, employees with disabilities who disclose to most people they interact with are more than twice as likely to feel regularly happy or content at work than employees with disabilities who have not disclosed to anyone (65% versus 27%). They are also less likely to regularly feel nervous or anxious (18% versus 40%) or isolated (8% versus 37%).

  • ClearTalents enables employees to self-disclose their needs by allowing them to create diversity profiles that can engender HR leaders to make reasonable adjustments.

Make reasonable adjustments to empower disabled employees

What is a reasonable adjustment?

A reasonable adjustment may include changes to the workplace, equipment or services or how things are done. Specifically, someone with arthritis may benefit from an ergonomic keyboard or mouse (equipment). Someone with autism may find noisy workplaces difficult and may benefit from headphones or a quiet area to work (workplace).

Another example is ensuring that information is available in an accessible format. Microsoft, for example, now includes an accessibility checker in programs such as Microsoft Word so you can check whether the document is accessible for visually-impaired and blind users.


Or you may need to offer flexibility in when and where people work. Some disabled people may wish to vary their core hours to avoid ravelling during the rush hour, while others may prefer to work from home. The shift to hybrid working has proved beneficial. Still, there’s also a growing body of evidence that says that reasonable adjustments may not yet have translated from the workplace to people’s home environments.

ClearTalents enables employees to create up to three diversity profiles and offers hints and tips on how employers can make reasonable adjustments based on their needs.

Cultural change: feeling valued and included

Famously, Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

  • An atmosphere where I feel comfortable being myself (47%)
  • An environment that provides a sense of purpose (39%)
  • A place where work flexibility (parental leave, ability to work remotely) is provided as a top priority (36%)

The report said: “Diverse teams are absolutely important, but inclusion unleashes the power of diversity, fostering an organisational culture where everyone feels comfortable speaking up and being themselves. Today’s workforce is looking for organisations to go beyond addressing how inclusion looks but also addressing how inclusion feels.”

A genuinely inclusive workplace is one where inclusion is part of the culture rather than something separate from the HR or talent strategy.

What are the benefits of an inclusive workforce?

There are many benefits of an inclusive workplace. The CIPD says it is “linked to positive team outcomes, reduced absenteeism and enhanced job commitment, suggesting that inclusive behaviour allows individuals to work together effectively and creates a healthy environment for employees.”

You’re more likely to recruit top candidates if you’re inclusive. CIPD found that 80% of those surveyed said that inclusion is essential when choosing an employer. Conversely, 39% would consider leaving their employer for one that is more inclusive; 23% have already left.

  • Contact us for more details on how ClearTalents can support an inclusive workplace
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