According to StepUp BC’s toolkit, Create an Inclusive Workplace few components of an inclusive workplace include a welcoming environment where everyone feels respected, equality policies in place and all levels of staff being aware of inclusive values. In addition to the basics, two of my favourite initiatives involve conversation and celebration.
Converse --- A little chitchat can go a long way to creating a culture that is respectful and welcoming. As understanding is the key to challenging biases and misunderstandings about what makes us unique (e.g. culture, disabilities, medical conditions, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), a great way to increase inclusiveness is by encouraging open communication. You can support your teammates by asking questions and valuing each person’s opinion.
Celebrate --- Celebrating isn’t just fun, it helps build bonds! An easy way to do this to create a shared calendar in a visible area of the staff room where all staff—and we mean everyone from bus drives to the principal—can mark down important dates and holidays that are meaningful to them. This will provide everyone the opportunity to learn something new about their co-workers and celebrate the diversity that makes up your community. Examples of events your calendar might include are Chinese New Year, Pride Month, Ramadan, Yom Kippur—just to name a few! To get things started, refer to the Government of Canada’s list of important and commemorative days.
Alternatively, if celebrating a number of small events doesn’t seem feasible, you can opt to host one big event instead where students and staff can share meaningful activities about their culture. Not only will celebrating diversity strengthen positive relationships between staff, but it’ll also model to students how to accept and thrive amongst diversity.
Regardless of what you choose to do, what’s important is that you make it your own. Jenn Flynn from APPLE Schools shares a great story on how one school here in Alberta engaged staff and celebrated a local culture through what started off as a simple gesture of gratitude.