The Vital Role of Inclusion in the Workplace: Top Insights from Organizations Today

Jun 18, 2024 | 5 min read

Over the last four years, organizations have been forced to advance at hyper speed. Transitioning work models, reassessing organizational goals, and accommodating a rapidly changing workforce with evolving priorities has put organizations in a position of having to learn and grow faster than ever to stay competitive.

One of the most important ways in which organizations can stay competitive and reflect their diverse and growing workforce is to prioritize inclusion. Inclusion refers to creating an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported regardless of their differences. Differences can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, educational background, neurodiversity, and more.

Inclusive workplaces promote diversity and strive to ensure that everyone has equal access to opportunities, resources, and advancement. It is about creating a culture where diverse perspectives are welcomed, heard, and valued, ultimately leading to greater innovation, creativity, and overall success.

Using the indicators of inclusive organizations, Wiley Workplace Intelligence surveyed 2,001 people, the majority of which are individual contributors and managers, to understand the state of inclusivity in the workplace today.

Majority Report Comfort Asking for Accommodations

Two thirds of people feel comfortable asking for accommodations at work. Two coworkers are working at a desk, one is in a wheelchair.

2/3 of people feel comfortable asking for accommodations at work

The work model revolution of 2020 opened the doors to more flexible work arrangements, in many cases by necessity due to safety concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic. These changes paved the way for increased awareness around diverse needs and normalized conversations around accommodations. Working remotely, for example, makes work more accessible to people with different abilities, mental health considerations, or are neurodivergent.

While flexible work arrangements are one way organizations can embrace inclusion, there are many other accommodations that allow for greater productivity and wellbeing while still achieving goals and meeting deadlines. A few ways in which organizations can promote inclusivity include providing quiet rooms and sensory-friendly workspaces (for example: cubicles away from busy areas or standing desks) in an office environment, clear and direct communication, coaching and mentorship opportunities, and assistive technologies such as note taking bots or screen readers.

Diverse Perspectives Are Considered by Others

Eighty seven percent of people feel that their ideas are considered by their teammates. A group of coworkers working together on a project.

87% of people feel that ideas are considered by others

One of the markers of an inclusive workplace is that diverse ideas are considered and acted upon. Good news for organizations is that 87% of our respondents said that they feel that their ideas are considered by others.

Diverse ideas make inclusive workplaces because they consider a variety of perspectives, experiences, and approaches to problem-solving. This fosters innovation, improved decision-making, and adaptability. This leads to higher levels of employee engagement as individuals feel included and valued.

Almost Half Believe Leadership Does Not Reflect Diverse Workforce

Fifty four percent of respondents think leadership is as diverse as the workforce. A group of six diverse leaders in a line.

54% think leadership is as diverse as the workforce

While most indicators of inclusivity in an organization got high marks from our respondents, one area of concern is that 54% of those surveyed believe that leadership is as diverse as their workforce. That means that almost half believe that leadership does not reflect the diversity in their organization.

When leadership lacks diversity compared to the rest of the organization, several problems can arise. Some potential issues include limited perspective. When leadership does not reflect the diversity of the overall organization, they may struggle to understand the needs, concerns, and experiences of their employees. This can lead to bias, even unintentionally.

Another issue is decreased employee engagement or retention as individuals do not see themselves represented in positions of power within their organization which can lead to decreased trust, morale, and engagement among employees. This can also send a message regarding the limited upward mobility of diverse employees.

Policies and Practices Promote Diversity and Inclusion

While our research shows that there is an opportunity for improvement around leadership and diversity, overall, a majority of respondents shared that their organizations are inclusive and have created policies and practices that promote diversity.

Diversity and Inclusion at Work

Seventy eight percent

78% Agree
My organization has created an inclusive workplace environment.

Seventy six percent

76% Agree
My organization has created policies that promote diversity.

Seventy three percent

73% Agree
My organization has created practices that promote diversity.

While it is encouraging that the majority of individuals surveyed report that they have inclusive work environments, it is important for organizations to continue to prioritize advancement in this area. Inclusion benefits organizations by fostering a positive work environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best work, ultimately leading to improved performance, productivity, and success.

While organizations at large can enact policies that educate and inform on the benefits of inclusion, everyone can take steps towards more inclusive practices by getting to know the people they work with on an individual level.

When you understand more about each other, whether it is work styles, personality types, strengths, or challenges, getting to know and understand the people you work with can go a long way in creating more inclusive and empowered workplaces. By embracing diversity and creating a culture of inclusion, organizations can garner greater success in an ever-changing world of work.

Wiley’s suite of professional solutions provides a structure and common language to help empower entire organizations with the skills needed to get to the next level. From building better teams with The Five Behaviors®, and improving understanding to create engaged, collaborative, and adaptive cultures with Everything DiSC® on Catalyst, helping you make confident hiring decisions with PXT Select®, or unlocking the power of leadership at every level with The Leadership Challenge®, Wiley has innovative solutions that help make the workplace a better place.