The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
As an employer, knowing how to make your work environment more inclusive is essential to the success of your business. Not only is it illegal to be prejudiced towards anyone for a protected identity, but it also hurts people and makes the business an unsafe environment.
Learning to be inclusive is about more than politics. It also impacts the mental health of your employees who are part of a marginalized community.
Do Marginalized Communities Have Worse Mental Health?
So, why is inclusivity such an influence on the mental health of those in marginalized communities? Shouldn’t inclusivity be for everyone?
These are common questions that people may have when being asked to look at intersectionality for the first time. Basically, intersectionality means understanding that different groups have different experiences and therefore are not equal.
However, they should be treated with respect, kindness, and dignity at all times, with the understanding that their unique place in the world and the prejudice they receive from others do impact their mental health, ability to work, and how people may treat them.
For example, Indigenous employees and Black employees are both racial minorities that experience violence and racism. However, there are differences in their cultures and the way that they are both seen by society that further complicates how oppression may impact them both.
Due to the oppression that many marginalized people experience, there is a likelihood of past trauma, which can be carried with someone into the workplace, even unintentionally. It’s important for you, as an employer, to understand that this trauma is unique to the group the person is a part of and that being able to see them for who they are and be inclusive to them is the only way to foster a healthy mental health environment.
How Does Inclusivity Benefit Employees?
So, let’s look at how being inclusive benefits employees and why you should always aim to be as inclusive as possible in your workplace.
Employees Will Feel Seen
First of all, employees will feel seen by you. They will know they are validated in their identity and that you do not disregard them or ignore their struggles in an effort to mesh them together with everyone. It’s totally okay for someone who is Black to feel that they do not 100% relate to their white coworkers.
It is also okay for someone who is gay to not have to silence themselves about their spouse when their heterosexual counterparts can speak freely about their relationships with their coworkers. Treating people equally does not mean ignoring their identity.
Employees Will Trust You
Employees will trust an employer that makes efforts towards inclusivity, as it shows that you truly care about their wellbeing. Trusting the company, managers, and coworkers to be respectful increases loyalty in those who are part of a marginalized community. After all, they’re more likely to stay in a respectful and trustworthy environment than leave and seek out a potentially hostile one.
Employees Know That Prejudice Won’t Be Tolerated
Most importantly, if you make it clear from the beginning that your workplace doesn’t tolerate prejudice of any form, employees will feel safe and know that they will not be subjected to hatred at work. If they are subjected to any type of prejudice, it’s important that disciplinary action and measures are taken to protect them and remove the inflicting party as soon as possible.
You Will Have a More Diverse Workplace
Finally, your workplace will be more diverse, drawing in more people who are looking for a diverse workforce. Many minorities prefer to work in groups with others whom they can relate to in their struggles. Having close coworking relationships and people from various backgrounds makes your business more culturally diverse, more open to various viewpoints and can help you come up with new strategies and ideas that you may not have previously thought of.
How To Be Inclusive
So, how can you be inclusive? Inclusivity is about more than just hiring someone from a marginalized community. After all, you can’t always tell who is part of one or not.
Inclusivity is about:
- Putting practices in place to ban prejudice and hate in the workplace
- Interviewing candidates with any name (including ethnic names)
- Interviewing candidates whose birth name doesn’t “match” their gender
- Asking all employees to add their pronouns to their profile on the company site
- Introducing yourself with your pronouns to make all employees feel safe
- Giving employees chances to share their expertise and life knowledge with others
- Shutting down racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other hateful beliefs as soon as you see them
- Hiring people who agree with the company values
If you want to learn more about inclusivity and how it impacts mental health, check out BetterHelp today.