9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (2024)

Think about a time in your life when you felt most included. What was going on, and how did it feel?

Now take a minute and think about a time in your life when you felt excluded. What was going on there, and how did that feel?

Everyone wants to feel included. We all want to feel safe. We all want to have that power.

Some of us have more power than others, but as individuals, we can take a number of thoughtful actions that add up to create a better, more inclusive and inviting culture.

As an individual within your company, you don't need to be in the C-Suite or on the People Ops team to affect the kind of positive change that inspires people from different backgrounds to apply and feel included once they're hired.

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9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (1)

9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (2)

How transparency fosters diversity and inclusion — my story

Exclusion is nothing new for me — in fact, it was my norm for a long time. As a black, bisexual, college-dropout-woman-with-lots-of-opinions, the idea of inclusion was a fairy tale I only read about.

When I applied to jobs, I wouldn’t use my real name — Chanita — on my resume. Sometimes I’d lie and say I had a degree. I never included my LinkedIn or social media in fear of people seeing the real me. I would “code switch” to seem more appealing to the company culture or brand.

That changed when I applied to Help Scout because of this blog post.

I’d been a fan of Help Scout for a while, and it was inspiring to see them openly admit their shortcomings. This time, the hiring process was so different — I didn’t change my name on the application; I didn’t feel the need to act like anyone other than myself during interviews. They got to know the real Chanita and it felt fantastic!

9 ways to foster inclusivity

No matter what your role is, you can affect the kinds of change at your company that inspire people from different backgrounds to apply (and thrive once they’re hired).

1. Be transparent

Everyone in the company — leadership and individual contributors alike — should practice transparency. Admit to your shortcomings and encourage others to do the same.

That’s what Leah’s blog post about Help Scout’s demographic data did, and that post is what encouraged me to apply. I could have gotten a rough idea from the team photos on the “About us” page, but for the company to actually come out and say it made a bigger impact, and felt like an invitation for growth.

2. Use inclusive language

Instead of addressing a group of people as “guys,” why not “team” or “folks” or “y’all”? How about trying something fun, like “party people” or “fellow humans”?

9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (3)

9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (4)

Recognize that some commonly used words, like “crazy” or “ghetto” or “females,” can make people uncomfortable. They might not bother everyone, but they do bother some people, and it’s not hard to find other (usually better!) substitutes that don’t exclude anyone. Buffer has a great guide to inclusive language here.

3. Be an ally

According to Valerie Aurora from Frame Shift Consulting:

An ally is a member of a social group that enjoys some privilege that is working to end oppression and understand their own privilege.

Allies speak up even when it’s scary. It sounds simple, but it makes a huge impact. If you have the social capital to say, “We don’t say that here” when someone uses non-inclusive language — and to suggest more inclusive alternatives — use it. Allyship makes underrepresented people feel comfortable and confident.

If I didn’t know I’d have allies standing up for me and championing for me, I would be terrified starting work at a new company where I was the only black queer woman. Knowing you’ll be supported and appreciated goes a long way toward alleviating any fears about being the “only one.”

4. Self-educate

When you don’t know something, Google it. Take the initiative to learn on your own instead of relying on members of that identity group to do it for you. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but at the same time, there is nothing wrong with finding out things on your own.

5. Switch up your social media scene

Who do you follow on Twitter? Who do you retweet? Which Instagram posts are you liking? Which Facebook groups are you in? What can you do to switch that up sometimes? Resources like #DiversifyYourFeed, POCIT and Colorlines can help, but again, do your own Googling!

6. Amplify marginalized voices

Who is getting credit for ideas in meetings? Be mindful of who is dominating conversational space, and who is getting interrupted. There is so much power in speaking up for people and amplifying voices that may not otherwise be heard.

If you can, support underrepresented peers to speak at conferences, write for blogs, teach customer classes, appear in company videos and so on. If you’re invited to speak on a panel but you and all the other participants are from more privileged groups, consider recommending someone else in your place. If you’re asked to appear on a podcast but you don’t have time, think about whose career could use a boost and suggest them instead.

7. Lean into discomfort

If you belong to an identity group with power and privilege, it can be easier to ignore some of the difficulties other people face. Challenge yourself not to! “Leaning into discomfort” means having the hard conversations, showing up for others and not tuning out the realities of the world we’re all living in.

One of the small ways we lean into discomfort at Help Scout is with a # diversity Slack channel (where the above screenshot recommending “party people” as a gender neutral form of address came from!), as well as private channels for women, people of color and LGBTQ+ team members.

8. Accept critical feedback

We all make mistakes! It truly is a part of life. When someone calls you out for making a mistake, rather than getting defensive: apologize, discuss what happened, try to understand the problem along with the impact, learn from it and move on gracefully.

I find that when you ask thoughtful, specific questions pertaining to a certain kind of feedback, you can get high-quality answers. For instance, I could ask a team member, ‘hey, are there any words I’ve used in team meetings or in writing that have stuck out to you and caused a reaction? If so, what were they?’

The more I heard feedback about being an ally and changing my vocabulary, the less defensive I became when receiving the information. I also started asking more questions, being more proactive and even giving others feedback based on what I had learned.

It sucks when it’s all on the offended party to initiate a difficult conversation. Good allies don’t wait for the feedback.

Nick Francis

Help Scout CEO

9. Diversify your network

Do you know five amazing people within your industry who are either:

  • A woman

  • Part of the LGBTQ+ community

  • In a different generation/age group than you

  • A veteran

  • A person of color

  • Someone with a disability

  • Someone with a different educational background than you

If not, that’s my challenge to you: Get to know at least five people you wouldn't think to communicate with before. Don’t be afraid to spark up a conversation on LinkedIn! Sit next to a stranger at the next conference you attend. Break the ice with someone in a different department and have a fulfillingly random conversation.

Start where you can, and trust that it only gets easier.

Why we’re still talking about diversity and inclusion

I could share plenty of statistics and quotes and powerful images to back up everything I’m saying here — but that’s not what this is about. Honestly, we just need to talk.

Diversity and inclusion are difficult to discuss because lots of emotions are involved any time you’re talking about identities, power and privilege. But we need to keep talking about diversity and inclusion because frankly, not enough has changed. We have to continue to have these hard conversations because this is how we grow as companies and as individuals.

So let’s continue the dialogue. Let’s own what we know and what we don’t know, help amplify other voices, give credit where credit is due, support one another, serve as an example and set the bar high for everyone we influence.

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9 Ways to Foster Diversity and Inclusion at Work - Help Scout (2024)


How will you help foster diversity equity and inclusion? ›

Appreciate and respect everyone's backgrounds, experiences, and thoughtful perspectives. Listen to understand. Most of the time – and many are guilty of this – people listen to respond. They don't listen to understand what the other person is saying.

How can employees promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace? ›

Actively engage in the diversity effort. You can take part in or start an Employee Resource Group, or volunteer to chair or serve on committees that organize diversity- related events and activities. Consider becoming a mentor, mentee, or part of a co- mentoring relationship.

What are 3 benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace? ›

Increased employee engagement and trust

This higher engagement has a ripple effect on profitability, team morale, and retention. People working in inclusive workplaces also tend to have better physical and mental health and take less leave for health issues.

What does fostering diversity and inclusion mean? ›

It means creating a workplace culture in which employees feel valued, respected, and accepted. They feel they're welcome to be themselves and can share their ideas in a friendly environment.

How do you promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace interview question? ›

Share an example of how you made others feel included in your current or previous position. Your answer to this question should highlight a specific way that you embraced and uplifted team members with different backgrounds and demonstrate how you helped make them feel welcomed.

How do you promote diversity and inclusion in a team? ›

How to promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace
  1. Work to highlight and remove bias + ...
  2. Recognise awareness, cultural, and religious holidays + ...
  3. Diversity and inclusion training for employees + ...
  4. Have clear diversity and inclusivity policies + ...
  5. Ensure equal pay for equal work + ...
  6. Write inclusive job ads +

How do you promote equality and diversity in the workplace examples? ›

3 Ways to Promote Equality and Diversity in the Workplace
  • Diversity and Inclusion Training. Training is a key component of diversity management in the workplace. ...
  • Assess Your Hiring Practices. Preventing indirect discrimination begins before you even hire someone. ...
  • Identify Metrics for Diversity and Inclusion.
Nov 22, 2021

How can you encourage diversity in the workplace? ›

What are the best ways to promote diversity?
  1. Educate Managers on the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace.
  2. Create More Inclusive Workplace Policies.
  3. Communicate Clearly and Create Employee-Led Task Forces.
  4. Offer Meaningful Opportunities for Employee Engagement.
  5. Create Mentorship Programs.
  6. [
Aug 22, 2022

What are the 8 benefits of diversity in the workplace? ›

8 Benefits Of Having Workplace Cultural Diversity
  • Increased Creativity. ...
  • Boosts Productivity. ...
  • Various Perspectives. ...
  • Improved Innovation. ...
  • Faster Problem Solving. ...
  • Improved Decision Making. ...
  • Reduced Employee Turnover. ...
  • Helpful Language Skills.

What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace? ›

What is diversity & inclusion in the workplace? A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace. The “all areas” part is important.

What does it mean to promote diversity in the workplace? ›

Diversity in the workplace means having a workforce inclusive of different backgrounds and national origins. It means gender, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity — and beyond. It also means that the organization fosters a sense of belonging that makes everyone feel like they are part of the team.

What is diversity and inclusion examples? ›

This includes backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, genders, gender identities and expressions, languages, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation and expressions. In other words, it can be defined as the inclusion of people from different backgrounds, cultures, genders, and experiences.

Why is it important to foster diversity? ›

1) Diversity drives creativity and innovation

Every culture, every nationality, every single person sees the world in a different way. Similarly, every culture, nationality, and person has different knowledge, perspectives, and points of view. When all of these different views are shared together, miracles can happen.

How do you demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion? ›

Top 10 ways employers can demonstrate commitment to diversity and inclusion
  1. Be open about gender pay inequality/equality. ...
  2. Be aware of unconscious bias. ...
  3. Acknowledge religious and cultural holidays. ...
  4. Encourage frequent employee feedback. ...
  5. Be aware of ageism and strive for a multigenerational workforce.

How do you answer diversity and inclusion interview question? ›

Answer. To answer this question, you need to give concrete examples of how you will help your company become more diverse starting from the hiring process, which should include diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also requires you to explain how you will create an inclusive environment.

What is a good interview question on diversity and inclusion? ›

Diversity and inclusion interview questions
  • Can you share with us what diversity and inclusion mean to you? ...
  • Can you cite examples of how you can help promote diversity and inclusion within a company? ...
  • What is the hardest part of working in a diverse environment?
Sep 13, 2022

What is a good questions to ask about diversity and inclusion? ›

Panel Questions about Diversity and Inclusion

How do you define inclusion? What does it mean to you in a workplace scenario? Why is D&I an important topic of discussion? Do you think our D&I initiatives have influenced you and work on bringing a change?

What are the 9 characteristics of equality and diversity? ›

These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

What is a good example of equality and diversity? ›

Let's look at a few examples of equality and diversity in the workplace: Male and female workers doing the same job and receiving the same pay. Physical disabilities not restricting the carrying out of a role i.e. someone in a wheelchair doing the same job as someone sitting in a chair.

In which three ways can we promote equality and diversity? ›

How can we promote equality and diversity?
  • Treating all staff and students fairly.
  • Creating an inclusive culture for all staff and students.
  • Ensuring equal access to opportunities to enable students to fully participate in the learning process.
  • Enabling all staff and students to develop to their full potential.
Jun 14, 2022

What are 4 ways to manage diversity at work? ›

6 strategies for managing diversity in the workplace
  • Embrace diversity as part of your hiring process. ...
  • Manage diversity with leadership on board. ...
  • Consider all diverse groups. ...
  • Take part in diversity training. ...
  • Implement diversity policies that support diverse backgrounds. ...
  • Flexible working diversity strategies.

What are the four principles of inclusion? ›

Integrate the Four Key Principles of Inclusive Education in All Programs. The following guiding principles—equity, safety, leadership and empowerment and do no harm—should be reflected in all efforts to address disability inclusive education, much like they are for integrating gender into education programming. Equity.

What are the benefits of workplace diversity provide five examples? ›

Here are five significant advantages of diversity in the workplace:
  • Better opportunities for creativity and problem-solving. ...
  • Smarter decision-making. ...
  • An increase in profits and productivity. ...
  • Reduced rates of employee turnover. ...
  • Improved reputation for your business. ...
  • Be fair and identify potential bias.

What is the importance of diversity and inclusion at work answers? ›

A diverse and inclusive workforce helps businesses avoid employee turnover costs. Diversity fosters a more creative and innovative workforce. Businesses need to adapt to our changing world to be competitive in the economic market. Diversity is a key aspect of entrepreneurialism.

Why is diversity important at work? ›

Research has found that diversifying your team can boost productivity by 35%.. A diverse workforce is more likely to understand your customers' needs and come up with ideas to fulfill them. Diversity in the workplace will also increase employee morale and instill a desire to be more effective and work more efficiently.

What are the four benefits of workplace diversity? ›

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are immense. It improves workplace productivity, company culture, employee retention, and fights biases. It also helps with your company's reputation and much more.

What are the 8 areas of diversity? ›

The original "Big Eight" Social Identifiers
  • Ability - Mental and/or physical.
  • Age.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Gender.
  • Race.
  • Religion.
  • Sexual Orientation.
  • Socio-Economic Status/Class.

What is diversity and list five 5 examples? ›

Diversity refers to the inclusion of a wide range of people from different backgrounds. Examples of diversity include gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, age, cultural, religious, and political diversity. Today, diversity is highly valued because it strengthens social groups.

What are 5 examples of diversity? ›

Examples of internal diversity include race, ethnicity, age, nation of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical ability.

How do you foster and environment of inclusion? ›

Inclusivity Tips
  1. Create a transparent and honest culture.
  2. Be an ally.
  3. Acknowledge your unconscious bias.
  4. Develop a remote work policy.
  5. Create an agenda for meetings.
  6. Name a meeting facilitator.

How can individuals foster equality and diversity? ›

3 Ways to Promote Equality and Diversity in the Workplace
  1. Diversity and Inclusion Training. Training is a key component of diversity management in the workplace. ...
  2. Assess Your Hiring Practices. Preventing indirect discrimination begins before you even hire someone. ...
  3. Identify Metrics for Diversity and Inclusion.
Nov 22, 2021

How can you motivate others to be more inclusive in the workplace? ›

6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace
  1. Introduction.
  2. Educate Your Leaders.
  3. Form an Inclusion Council.
  4. Celebrate Employee Differences.
  5. Listen to Employees.
  6. Hold More-Effective Meetings.
  7. Communicate Goals and Measure Progress.
Mar 19, 2018

What are the 3 pillars that help organizations foster inclusive environment? ›

ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance. Hybrid Work.

How do you foster a good team environment? ›

Top Ways to Foster Teamwork in Business
  1. Being Honest. Nothing can tear a team apart quite as quickly as rumors and lying. ...
  2. Playing to Individual Strengths. Each member of your team is an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses. ...
  3. Communicating Clearly. ...
  4. Trusting Team Members. ...
  5. Providing Feedback. ...
  6. Recognizing Achievement.

How you would foster respect for diversity in the work team? ›

  1. Hire Leaders Who Understand The Importance Of These Values. ...
  2. Always Keep An Open Mind. ...
  3. Help Employees Feel Comfortable Expressing Themselves. ...
  4. Invite Diversity Of Discussion. ...
  5. Have A Safe Space For People's Beliefs. ...
  6. Create Flexible Mandatory Holidays. ...
  7. Hold Regular Culture Days.
Jan 25, 2021

What are 3 ways to promote inclusion? ›

  • Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  • Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  • Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  • Respect Diverse People. ...
  • Respect Diverse Talents.

What are three strategies for inclusion? ›

Inclusive teaching strategies
  • Create a consistent routine.
  • Provide a visual schedule.
  • Prepare students for an upcoming transition.

What are some inclusive work practices? ›

Examples of inclusive behaviors in the workplace
  • Respect and appreciate all team member's backgrounds and cultural values. ...
  • Organize team building activities. ...
  • Prioritize the participation of all workers in company-wide celebrations. ...
  • Foster a culture with authentic greetings. ...
  • Equal access to resources.
Oct 13, 2022

What are five examples of diversity at work? ›

Here's a list of the different types of diversity in the workplace:
  • Cultural diversity.
  • Racial diversity.
  • Religious diversity.
  • Age diversity.
  • Sex / Gender diversity.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Disability.


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