“Inclusion is the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” — The Society for Human Resource Management
Diversity and inclusion are vital to harmony in the workplace and creating a welcoming company culture. Education, training, effective communication, and company policies are all excellent ways to promote inclusion and show the value of accepting others.
With permanent employees, you can use a communications strategy, on point messaging, and integrated resources to reinforce this culture. When it comes to temporary workers, this becomes much more challenging. You need to promote positive values in a limited time to people who are still building a commitment to your business, and who you need to communicate with quickly.
But, just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here’s how to put together an effective strategy to promote diversity, inclusion, and acceptance in your workplace, to everyone.
Understand the Main Types of Diversity in Your Workplace
There are many different ways that we’re different to each other. Understanding the main types of diversity in your workplace can help you focus on the behaviors you want to promote. Broadly speaking, diversity falls into the following areas:
- Ethnicity — a person’s race, culture, and upbringing.
- Religion — someone’s spiritual beliefs and traditional morality.
- Gender and sexuality — how someone identifies — male, female, transgender, or other, and the people they are attracted to.
- Family status — whether someone is single, married, or a parent.
- Physical and mental disabilities — the physical and mental capabilities of an individual.
- Economic and educational status — the academic achievements and socio-economic status of people.
- Other areas — including age, body type, diet, and more.
Work with HR to identify the main diversity types among your employees and understand if there are any specific challenges in how certain groups feel about inclusion. Speak to your employees about diversity in the workplace and establish if there is any difference in how they are treated by permanent or temporary workers. You can use this to help build a communications strategy for temporary workers.
“Companies with gender, ethnic and racial diversity are at least 15 percent more likely to experience above-average financial returns. Companies within the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to do the same.” — Aperian Global
Create a Strategy for Communicating Inclusion to Temporary Workers
Education for diversity and inclusion cannot happen on an ad hoc basis. You need a consistent, cohesive, comprehensive approach so that everyone understands the importance of the right behavior in the workplace. You will want to:
- Build on any successes you have had with your diversity and inclusion training for permanent employees.
- Look at where in the temporary worker hiring process you want to include diversity and inclusivity information.
- Focus your messaging to be short and to the point — you won’t have the benefit of ongoing education with most temporary workers.
Ensure that Permanent Employees Display Inclusive Behaviors and Attitudes
One of the most effective ways to ensure inclusivity is to get your permanent employees to model it consistently. Make sure they understand their responsibilities to promote diversity, and teach them how to deal with any difficult situations when temporary workers cause inclusivity issues. Explain when it’s appropriate for them to deal with a diversity issue, and when they should refer the matter to a supervisor or HR. You will need to base this on your company policies.
“Engaging employees at all levels is the most effective way to reach critical mass and communicate the import of diversity and inclusion. Often employees are eager to join in the process but lack the know-how and confidence to take action. It is important to let employees know that there are many ways to contribute and support diversity and inclusion efforts and does not necessarily require expertise in the field.” — Profiles in Diversity Journal
Train Your Managers and Supervisors to Deal with Diversity Issues and Promote Good Behaviors
It’s vital to ensure your managers and other people responsible for supervising staff are carefully trained to spot potential diversity problems and deal with them appropriately. Ensure that you carefully explain the standards you expect from permanent employees and temporary workers so they can identify and resolve bad behaviors.
Promote Inclusivity Messages in the Workplace Environment and Culture
Getting your permanent employees to model good, inclusive behaviors is an excellent start, but you should follow that up with other messaging in the workplace itself. This can be through the temporary worker induction program, resource packages and training notes that you hand to new starters, or posters and promotion in the workplace itself.
It’s clear that the shift in diversity and inclusivity still includes, but stretches beyond, race and gender. We are in need of a collective push toward recognizing the need for diverse thinkers coming from a variety of different backgrounds, but companies are only slowly moving in this direction. — Aperian Global
Screen Temporary Workers According to Attitude and Approach
To reduce the impact of bad behavior from temporary workers, you may want to screen at the earliest possible opportunity. Be clear in any job or temporary worker postings on how you treat diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace. Explain that you have a diverse, talented team, and that any temporary workers will be expected to fully integrate.
Decide on Your Policy for Dealing with Breaches of Diversity Behavior
You will also want a coherent policy for dealing with problems. If someone is a temporary worker, you may decide to give them a warning, or choose not to take them on again. You will need to develop your policy in line with both your company’s principles and the workplace rules and regulations in your state.
Bringing Everything Together
Ultimately you want a peaceful, harmonious, diversity-aware workplace where everyone feels included and valued — whether they are a permanent employee or a temporary worker. Dealing with diversity challenges now, and doing it in a thoughtful, coordinated, and comprehensive way will ensure your permanent employees and managers can model the right types of inclusive behaviors. This in turn will help your temporary workers understand the importance of diversity and inclusiveness, creating a better work environment for all.