How to Promote Intentional Inclusion in the Workplace

CoffeePals Team
CoffeePals Team
April 12, 2024
How to Promote Intentional Inclusion in the Workplace

Step into a workplace where inclusion isn't just a buzzword but a thriving reality. In today’s professional environment, it's not enough to passively embrace differences – it's time to be intentionally inclusive.

A report by Cloverpop showed that inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time. They also arrive at these decisions twice as fast and with just half as many meetings as others.

This article is more than just a guide to understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion. It’s about how to take actual steps to actively promote it within your own organization.


Inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time. They also arrive at these decisions twice as fast and with just half as many meetings as others.

What is Intentional Inclusion?

Intentional inclusion is a purposeful and proactive approach to creating an inclusive environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds feel valued, respected, and fully integrated. 

Unlike passive or unintentional approaches to diversity and inclusion, intentional inclusion involves conscious efforts and deliberate actions to foster a sense of belonging for everyone in the workplace.

Key elements of intentional inclusion include:

  • Proactive mindset: Intentional inclusion goes beyond reacting to diversity challenges; it involves anticipating and actively addressing potential issues. It is about creating a culture where inclusion is fundamental to decision-making and daily operations.
  • Deliberate actions: Instead of leaving diversity and inclusion to chance, intentional inclusion involves taking specific actions to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their background, are considered and included. This may involve implementing inclusive policies, providing training, and actively seeking diverse perspectives.
  • Continuous learning: Intentional inclusion recognizes that fostering a truly inclusive environment requires ongoing efforts. This includes regularly assessing the workplace culture, staying informed about diversity issues, and adapting strategies to meet the evolving needs of the workforce.
  • Leadership commitment: Successful intentional inclusion starts at the top. Leaders must demonstrate a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion through their words, actions, and decisions. When leaders prioritize and model inclusive behavior, it sets the tone for the organization.
  • Open communication: Creating a space for open and transparent communication is crucial in fostering intentional inclusion. It encourages employees to express their thoughts, share experiences, and contribute to an environment where everyone's voice is heard and respected.

Intentional inclusion is about actively cultivating an environment where diversity is acknowledged and embraced. It involves creating a workplace culture where differences are celebrated and everyone has the opportunity to thrive personally and professionally.

Hoping to have more conversations about diversity and inclusion? Here are some D&I topics you should be discussing in the workplace – 10 Diversity and Inclusion Topics to Discuss in the Workplace  

What are the Benefits of Intentional Inclusion?

Intentional inclusion is not just part of the checklist in your DEI initiatives. Its benefits touch the very core of organizational dynamics, influencing everything from employee satisfaction to market competitiveness.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of intentional inclusion in any organization:

  • Improved employee morale and engagement: Employees who feel included and valued have better morale and job satisfaction. Intentional inclusion creates a positive work environment, leading to higher employee engagement, commitment, and a sense of belonging.
  • Increased employee performance and productivity: Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging, positively influencing employee performance. Individuals who feel valued and supported will likely be more productive and contribute positively to the organization's success.
  • Better decision-making: Inclusive teams are more effective at decision-making. Drawing from diverse perspectives ensures a more comprehensive evaluation of options, reduces groupthink, and leads to well-informed and innovative decisions.
  • Broader talent pool and recruitment success: An inclusive workplace appeals to a wider range of job candidates. Organizations that actively promote diversity and inclusion are more likely to attract top talent, resulting in a more skilled and diverse workforce.
  • Reduced turnover and increased retention: Employees are more likely to stay with an organization where they feel included and appreciated. Intentional inclusion contributes to higher employee retention rates, saving the organization resources associated with recruitment and onboarding.
  • Enhanced customer understanding: A diverse and inclusive workforce is better equipped to understand and meet the needs of a diverse customer base. This cultural competency can lead to improved customer relations and increased market share.
  • Global competitiveness: Organizations that embrace intentional inclusion are more adaptable and better positioned to navigate diverse global markets. This adaptability enhances competitiveness and sustainability in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Intentional inclusion contributes to a positive and dynamic workplace culture, with its benefits impacting not just people within the organization but also the customers, clients, and the broader community around them.

how to promote intentional inclusion

How to Promote Intentional Inclusion

Since you’re reading this guide, it’s safe to say that you’ve taken the first step toward creating an intentionally inclusive workplace. From here, you can implement many initiatives that could help create a work environment where everyone thrives.

Here are a few strategies and best practices that could help you promote intentional inclusion in your workplace:

1. Lead by example

Leading by example sets the tone for organizational culture and behavior. When leaders consistently demonstrate inclusive practices, it sends a clear message to the entire workforce about the values and expectations of the organization. 

Leaders can lead by example by genuinely listening to and valuing diverse perspectives. Acknowledging and appreciating team members' unique contributions, regardless of their background, reinforces the importance of inclusion.

Another crucial aspect of leading by example is holding everyone accountable for inclusive behavior. Leaders should address any instances of bias or discrimination promptly and transparently, demonstrating that such behavior is not tolerated. By championing fairness and equality in decision-making, leaders instill confidence in employees that the organization is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive workplace. 

2. Provide diversity and inclusion training

Diversity and inclusion training equips employees with the knowledge and skills needed to understand, appreciate, and navigate the complexities of a diverse work environment. By increasing awareness of unconscious biases, fostering cultural competence, and promoting inclusive communication, employees are better prepared to contribute positively to an inclusive workplace culture.

Ongoing training initiatives are essential for sustaining intentional inclusion efforts. Regularly updating and reinforcing diversity and inclusion training keeps the workforce informed about evolving best practices, fosters a continuous learning culture, and reinforces the organization's commitment to creating an inclusive environment.

3. Review and update your policies

Reviewing and updating policies ensures that organizational guidelines align with diversity, equity, and inclusion principles. Organizations can identify and eliminate any unintentional biases or barriers hindering inclusivity by assessing existing policies. 

Regular reviews provide an opportunity to incorporate inclusive language, address potential gaps, and reinforce a commitment to equal opportunities for all employees. One practical approach is to involve a diverse group of employees in the policy review process to ensure that a variety of perspectives are considered, helping to identify potential blind spots and making sure that the policies resonate with the entire workforce. 

4. Launch ERGs

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide a platform for employees with shared identities, experiences, or interests to come together, fostering a sense of community and belonging. These groups play a vital role in promoting diversity and inclusion by offering support, networking opportunities, and a collective voice for underrepresented individuals within the organization.

To effectively launch ERGs, organizations should first conduct an inclusive assessment to identify the interests and needs of their workforce. This ensures that ERGs align with the unique characteristics and challenges present within the organization.

Ongoing support is essential for the sustainability of ERGs. This includes allocating resources, providing a budget for ERG activities, and integrating ERG initiatives into broader organizational goals. Encouraging collaboration and communication between ERGs and the larger organization ensures that the insights and perspectives of these groups contribute to broader diversity and inclusion strategies.

Here are some inspiring examples of ERGs in action – 15 Examples of Employee Resource Groups  

5. Celebrate different cultural events

Celebrating events other than the usual Christmas or Fourth of July celebrations creates opportunities for cultural exchange, fostering understanding and unity among team members. Organizations can start by incorporating diverse cultural events into their annual calendar. This may include celebrations of religious holidays, heritage months, or significant cultural milestones.

Encouraging employees to participate actively in planning and organizing cultural events ensures that a variety of perspectives are represented. This involvement enhances the authenticity of the celebrations and empowers employees to take pride in their cultural heritage.

Sharing stories, traditions, and customs during these events promotes a deeper understanding of different cultures, reinforcing the organization's commitment to intentional inclusion.

6. Recognize inclusive leaders and team members

Recognizing inclusive leaders and team members reinforces and highlights behaviors contributing to a diverse and supportive work environment. When leaders and team members who actively champion inclusion are acknowledged, it sets a positive example for others to follow.

One way to recognize inclusive leaders is through formal acknowledgment programs or awards highlighting and rewarding efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion. This can include acknowledging individuals who consistently demonstrate inclusive leadership qualities, such as fostering collaboration, actively seeking diverse perspectives, and advocating for equity.

7. Provide platforms for open dialogue

Providing platforms for open dialogue is a vital strategy for promoting intentional inclusion in the workplace, as it encourages the free exchange of ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Open dialogue creates a safe space for employees to express their thoughts, share concerns, and contribute to discussions about diversity and inclusion.

To implement this strategy effectively, organizations can establish regular forums, such as town hall meetings, diversity and inclusion workshops, or feedback sessions, where employees are encouraged to discuss their experiences openly and offer suggestions for improvement.

Virtual coffee breaks are also excellent platforms for these open dialogues because they create relaxed environments where people can freely share their thoughts regardless if they’re chatting with colleagues or leaders.

CoffeePals is a virtual coffee chat platform that offers different features like Coffee Maker, which encourages team members to share their answers to thought-provoking questions. Cross-team matching also allows team members to meet people they don’t usually interact with, widening their network and introducing them to unique perspectives.

Add CoffeePals to Microsoft Teams now and start intentionally promoting a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

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