As a high-performing organization, Henrico County focuses on providing our employees with the resources and support needed to excel in our ever-changing work environment. The new Capability Model (shown below) is designed with this support in mind. You can learn more about the capabilities within it on Capability Model resource page.
To help you understand each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection features a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Inclusion.
For an organization to thrive, all employees need to have a sense of belonging and feel valued for their individual contributions. As a result, these diverse and inclusive workforces are better at decision-making, innovation, and overall results. These results are due to elevated levels of engagement and motivation to produce high-quality work.
Some may think of specific types of diversity such as race, ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation. While these are certainly elements of diversity, there are many more to consider. A few examples include age, cultural background, religion, disability, language, education, personality type, and personal values. The Inclusion capability focuses on creating a sense of belonging for the entire diverse workforce. It is defined as “Acknowledging and showing appreciation for the individual differences, contributions, and talents of all team members, and strengthening employee confidence in their abilities.”
There are many ways for all employees in the workplace to help foster a sense of inclusion. Here are some examples:
- Increase your self-awareness. Be mindful of how you express yourself with your colleagues. Ask yourself: How am I coming across to others at this moment? Do I appear open? Calm? Approachable? Am I intentional about getting to know my teammates?
- Welcome everyone’s input during meetings. Create an environment where employees feel empowered to share ideas without fear of rejection. Pay attention to whose voices you’re hearing and not hearing during meetings. Encourage, listen and be open to diverse views and opinions, and acknowledge them with respect. Send your agenda ahead of time to provide introverted employees time to contemplate the ideas they will share, and make time for them to connect offline with additional thoughts after the meeting.
- When planning activities, consider your coworkers’ individual needs and circumstances. Are there elements of the activity or celebration that might make any of your colleagues uncomfortable? Your plans need to ensure everyone can attend and participate.
- Connect with others. It can be natural to gravitate toward people when we have things in common with them. Instead, challenge yourself to build connections with those who are different from you. A great way to do this is to attend one of Henrico County’s workshops on diversity and inclusion to engage in open dialogue. Share information about yourself and ask questions of others to learn more about them.
- Encourage involvement and participation. When leading others, involve employees in decisions and initiatives that impact their work. Ask for their opinions and input through informal discussions, meetings, focus groups, or surveys. Asking for the input of your diverse workforce leads to better decisions and more engaged employees.
- Recognize and appreciate others. Acknowledge your team members individually for the unique value they bring to the workplace. Share with them how their specific contributions positively impact the workplace and the organization.
Fostering inclusiveness maximizes the organization’s success and engagement of the employees by involving the diverse perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and approaches of every person. To find more examples of diversity and inclusion, view the “Psychological Safety: Fostering a Sense of Belonging” video and the “Voices of the Heart” video series on the OLTD YouTube page.