Are Your Policies Inclusive?

We have all witnessed the impact that non-inclusive policies can have on employee morale. The effect of bad policies can look like our colleagues not bringing their full selves to work, showing up late and leaving early, or simply “quiet quitting” altogether. Recent studies have shown that employee engagement has been at an all-time low since 2015. By creating more inclusive policies, organizations can increase employee engagement. 

Inclusive policies are designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations, communities, and societies. These policies aim to create environments where all individuals, regardless of their background, identity, characteristics, or circumstances, have equal access to opportunities, resources, and rights.  

Organizations with inclusive policies are more likely to attract a diverse pool of talent and retain employees by providing a supportive work environment. By creating a positive and inclusive workplace, organizations can reduce turnover and the associated costs of recruitment and training.

Components of Good Policies: 

Inclusive policies aim to promote equal opportunities, respect, and a sense of belonging within organizations, institutions, and communities. Inclusive policies help address historical and systemic disparities, prevent discrimination and exclusion, and foster a sense of belonging for everyone. To ensure policies are inclusive, organizations can incorporate the following elements into the creation of their policies. 

  • Practise Regular Reviews
    • Continuously assess and update policies to ensure they remain relevant and effective. Establish a regular review cycle to evaluate the impact of policies on inclusivity and make necessary adjustments. 
  • Measure Leadership Implementation 
    • Ask leaders about how they access, understand, and implement policies. Provide resources and support for leaders to close any knowledge gaps or inconsistencies in the application of policies. 
  • Gather Feedback from Employees
    • Create opportunities to hear from employees about how they interpret and are impacted by policies. Communicate back to them when and how their feedback will be incorporated into the policy. 
  • Recognize Intersectionality
    • Recognize and address the unique experiences of individuals with multiple marginalized identities. Include diverse perspectives and voices while creating policies to ensure that policies consider how different identities intersect and impact experiences within the organization.  
  • Use Inclusive Language
    • Use language that is respectful, gender-inclusive, free from stereotypes or assumptions, and demonstrates respect for diverse identities and experiences.  Provide guidelines on using gender-neutral language in all communications and documents. 
  • Promote Inclusive Practices
    • Encourage inclusive behaviours and practices among employees, leaders, and stakeholders. Recognize and reward individuals who actively contribute to creating an inclusive environment.

Types of Inclusive Policies: 

Organizations that are looking to increase recruitment, retention, and engagement can review their employment systems and consider creating policy suites that include the following considerations throughout the course of the employee life-cycle. 


Inclusive recruitment policies prioritize diversity, striving to eliminate bias and create equitable opportunities. These policies may involve unbiased job descriptions, blind recruitment processes, diverse interview panels, and targeted outreach. By fostering a culture that values inclusivity, organizations ensure fair access to employment opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds, contributing to a workforce that mirrors the richness of society. Inclusive recruitment policies promote social responsibility and enhance organizational performance by harnessing the power of diverse perspectives and talents. 

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policies: 
    • Ensure that all employment decisions are made without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or other protected characteristics.  Clearly state the commitment to providing equal employment opportunities and outline procedures for addressing discrimination complaints. 
  • Diversity and Representation Policies: 
    • Ensure representation of diverse backgrounds in various aspects of an organization, such as leadership positions, decision-making bodies, and teams. This includes but is not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and socio-economic status.  Implement hiring and promotion practices that actively seek out candidates from underrepresented groups. 

 Promotion, Advancement and Compensation:

Inclusive promotion policies champion fairness and equal opportunities, aiming to eliminate biases that might hinder career advancement. They prioritize skillsets and competencies and create transparent pathways for all employees, irrespective of background or identity. These policies often involve mentorship programs, skill-building initiatives, and objective performance evaluations. Inclusive promotion policies contribute to social equity and enhance workplace morale and productivity, as employees recognize that advancement is determined by their abilities and contributions.  Some ways to encourage employee retention and growth can include: 

  • Transparent Promotion and Advancement Policies: 
    • Ensure transparency in promotion and advancement processes to prevent bias and favoritism and ensure fair access to opportunities. Implement clear guidelines for promotion criteria and ensure they are communicated to all employees. 
  • Equal Pay and Compensation Policies: 
    • Ensure equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other characteristics, contribute to workplace equity. Conduct regular pay equity audits to identify and rectify any gender or race-based pay disparities. 
  • Inclusive Hiring and Promotion Policies: 
    • Policies that address bias in recruitment, hiring, and promotion processes help ensure fair access to opportunities.  Implement blind recruitment practices to minimize unconscious bias. 
  • Leadership Development and Succession Planning Policies: 
    • Ensure that leadership development programs and succession planning processes prioritize diversity and inclusion.  Implement mentorship programs, leadership training initiatives, and transparent succession planning processes. 

Organizational Culture:

Organizational culture policies encapsulate the shared values and behaviors that define a company's ethos. These policies articulate the principles guiding interactions, decisions, and workplace dynamics. They often encompass fostering inclusivity, promoting diversity, and upholding ethical conduct. Work-life balance, continuous learning, and transparent communication are also emphasized. Recognition of achievements, commitment to employee well-being, and a strong focus on leadership principles round out these policies. These guidelines shape a positive workplace culture, cultivating a conducive environment for employee satisfaction, engagement, and the pursuit of organizational goals. Some ways of creating environments that employees want to be in can include: 

  • Cultural Competence and Training Policies: 
    • Require training on cultural competence and unconscious bias to help employees, students, or community members better understand and respect different perspectives, diverse cultures, and identities. 
  • Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policies: 
    • Prohibit discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and any form of bias-based mistreatment.  Implement strict policies against discriminatory behavior and establish clear reporting mechanisms and process for investigating and addressing complaints. 
  • Affinity Groups and Employee Resource Network Policies: 
    • Create and support spaces for employees to connect based on shared identities or interests.  Establish Employee Resource Groups for 2SLGBTQI+, Women, and persons from ethnic backgrounds to provide networking and support. 
  • Training and Education Policies: 
    • Foster a culture of continuous learning and awareness through diversity and inclusion training programs for all employees.  Implement regular training sessions on topics such as unconscious bias, cultural competence, and inclusive leadership. 

Equitable treatment: 

Accessibility policies underscore a commitment to providing equal access to all individuals, including those with diverse abilities. They involve regular accessibility assessments, the implementation of assistive technologies, and the provision of reasonable accommodations. These policies not only comply with legal requirements but also reflect a dedication to creating spaces and experiences that accommodate diverse needs, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and supportive workplace or service environment. Some ways of providing equitable access for persons with diverse abilities can include: 

  • Equitable Access Policies: 
    • Remove barriers and provide equal access to resources, opportunities, and services for everyone. Provide accommodations and accessibility options for individuals with diverse abilities to ensure they can fully participate. 
  • Accessible Facilities and Accommodation Policies: 
    • Require physical spaces, digital platforms, and communication materials to be accessible to individuals with diverse abilities. Ensure workplaces and public spaces comply with accessibility standards and provide accommodations as needed.  

Work-life balance: 

Work-life balance policies are vital commitments that organizations make to support the well-being of their employees. These policies aim to establish reasonable working hours, encourage flexible schedules, and provide avenues for remote work when feasible. They often include initiatives like paid time off, family leave, and wellness programs to foster a healthy work-life equilibrium. By promoting a balance between professional and personal life, these policies contribute to reduced stress, increased job satisfaction, and heightened productivity. Work-life balance policies signal an employer's understanding of the importance of holistic employee well-being, creating a positive organizational culture and attracting and retaining top talent. Some way to promote healthy work-life balances can include: 

  • Flexible Work Policies: 
    • Accommodate diverse needs by offering flexible work arrangements such as remote work options and flexible hours that support work-life balance and diverse work styles and needs.  
  • Family and Caregiver Support Policies: 
    • Recognize and support employees with caregiving responsibilities by providing family leave, parental leave, or flexible scheduling.  Offer paid parental leave, childcare assistance, and support for employees with caregiving responsibilities. 

Responsible Sourcing: 

Responsible sourcing policies reflect a commitment to ethical and sustainable procurement practices. They guide organizations in selecting suppliers and partners who adhere to social, environmental, and ethical standards. These policies often detail criteria for supplier selection, emphasizing fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and compliance with regulations. Transparent supply chain management, traceability, and efforts to minimize the environmental impact are integral components. By promoting responsible sourcing, organizations aim to support fair trade, reduce carbon footprints, and ensure that their products and services are aligned with ethical values. These policies contribute to building a socially responsible and environmentally conscious brand. An example of showing commitment to responsible sourcing is: 

  • Inclusive Procurement Policies: 
    • Support diverse businesses and suppliers by incorporating diversity requirements into procurement processes to contribute to economic inclusion for underrepresented businesses. Include criteria that prioritize working with minority-owned or women-owned businesses. 

Inclusive policies contribute to creating a more diverse, equitable, and welcoming environment that not only benefits individuals but also enhances organizational performance, innovation, and overall success. Inclusive policies create environments where individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique skills and perspectives. These policies are essential for building diverse, equitable, and thriving organizations and societies.

Our newsletter and blogs feature personal opinions and diverse viewpoints. We aim to create a safe space for our team to share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Please note that individual articles may not align with every reader's view or comprehensively cover a topic. We appreciate the diversity of opinions and respect our team's contributions.