How to talk about inclusivity at a job interview

Dec 10, 2015

You may have heard employers talking about inclusivity in the workplace but what does it mean in practical terms for you as a new job-seeker?

Inclusivity is all about breaking down barriers and promoting communication so it makes sense to ensure you know a thing or two about it – especially if you have your sights set on working for a top or global employer.
When a policy of inclusivity works well, employees feel they’re being treated with dignity and respect. Moreover, their talents and skills are being appreciated and utilised. It goes without saying that if inclusivity is being taken seriously in the workplace, then the workforce feels happier and more fulfilled.
Of course, full-time workers can spend over 40 hours per week at work and this often means that more waking hours are spent at work than at home, so it’s vital that workers feel contented and productive at work, and that they can enjoy meaningful working relationships. To this end, an ethos of inclusivity is essential; it can create a win-win situation for both employers and employees. A policy of inclusivity can attract new talent to businesses, it can keep hold of outstanding and hardworking staff, and it can create a more pleasant working environment.

Talking about inclusivity at a job interview

Employers, particularly those who operate on a global scale, understand this very well and so work hard to create an atmosphere of inclusivity. They also seek new employees who can add something to this mix. So, if you’re attending a job interview at a potential employer’s office, how will you recognise if an ethos of inclusivity is being promoted?

Here are a few things to consider:
1. You will probably receive a warm welcome by the receptionist and other members of staff.
2. There will be a pleasant atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration in the building.
3. The firm will have policies in place that cover issues like working conditions, equality and human rights, dignity at work, employee welfare and fair recruitment practices; and it wouldn’t be inappropriate for you to ask your interviewer about their inclusivity policies.
4. Ideally, the workforce should be representative of the local community in terms of race, sex, religion and culture.
5. There should be systems in place to encourage employee development and progress, including performance-management procedures. Again, you could ask about staff-development reviews at your interview.
6. You will notice that employees don’t tend to be segregated or stuck in strict hierarchies or cliques, so workers can communicate easily with managers and directors and have their opinions heard. In large organisations, employee networks and forums can be a good idea and often work well.
7. Of course, inclusivity will also mean that the firm has in place strict procedures for handling any issues to do with discrimination, harassment and bullying at work.

Employees want to feel included

These days, promoting an ethos of inclusivity may be harder than you think. In an uncertain economic climate, which involves staff cutbacks and austerity measures, morale in the workplace can be low. Organisations and their employees are under increasing pressure due to budget cuts, pay freezes and job losses. But despite these factors, workers still expect recognition and respect at work. They wish to be noticed and appreciated for what they do – and in the current economic climate, this seems more important than ever.
Another matter to consider is the rise in globalisation and migration. This has resulted in organisations being more culturally diverse, and diversity can be of great benefit to a firm (as we will discuss next time). These days we must remember that working as part of a team will probably entail working with people of different ages, sexes, nationalities, religions and cultures. Some team members’ beliefs and ways of working may be very dissimilar to your own. So an ethos of inclusivity is paramount.
Studies have shown that our country of origin fundamentally affects the way we think, our attitudes and our behaviours. So although we must take care to ensure we don’t misunderstand each other, these are exciting times and we have much to learn from each other. Diversity will be our next topic of discussion.

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