Pointers for Building a More Inclusive Community

people talking in circle

It’s important for communities and organizations, no matter what type they are, to be inclusive and welcoming to all types of people. Inclusivity, by definition, is the policy or discipline of giving equal access to resources and opportunities for people who are usually marginalized or excluded. These people often include those who have mental or physical disabilities or those who might belong to minority groups.

Whether you run or manage a business, a non-profit, a religious institution, or any type of community, you need to make inclusivity a core value. Here are some ways you can make your community more inclusive for everybody.

Create safe spaces for open communication

If you can establish safe spaces where everybody can gather and chat, where marginalized members of the community can talk about their lived experiences and provide other members with valuable information, then that would be a wonderful start to your quest for inclusivity. It’s not about giving a voice for them, because they already have a voice. You just need to amplify their voices and provide a platform for them to speak about how you can make your community a more comfortable place for them to be.

Champion inclusive leadership

Speaking of amplifying their voices, communities and organizations that found success in terms of diversity and inclusion made it a point to champion leaders from different backgrounds. There is a sense of safety in the leadership team, in that those who are part of it can feel honest enough about their struggles without feeling like they will be judged or condemned for it. An inclusive community will allow for constructive disagreements and practical feedback based on the advice of diverse team members.

Community together

Meet their felt needs

The whole point of inclusivity is to ensure that everyone is treated equally and provided equal access to resources. Here are some examples of how you can ensure that your members that come from marginalized communities will feel truly welcome and like they are equals:

  • If there are disabled members in your community, make sure that your facilities are accessible. Consider helping them with their documents as well—help them with their disability claims and applications. Teach the non-disabled members of your organization the proper and helpful way to treat their disabled contemporaries.
  • If you have members from minority groups, ask them how you can make the community more inclusive and welcoming from the very first time they set foot in your organization. Ask them during their entrance interview or their first day and make sure to take note of their recommendations.

Celebrate differences; don’t just tolerate them

Celebrating our differences will help fuel a wider array of ideas, life experiences, and expertise in our community. It will help your organization improve its overall mindset and collective knowledge. If you have people of all genders, ages, and races in your organization, here are some ways to celebrate your different contexts and backgrounds:

  • If you must have a quiet room, make sure it’s devoid of any religious imagery so that everyone can feel welcome and safe in it.
  • Establish a multicultural calendar so you can celebrate various cultural or religious holidays.
  • Encourage open communication and the exchange of ideas through monthly social gatherings. You can have themed nights and invite members from different cultures and nationalities to organize and host them to ensure that every culture and background is treated with the respect and gravitas it deserves.
  • Take allegations of discrimination, harassment, and racism seriously. Believing victims does not mean you have to believe everything they say; it means taking their allegations seriously, investigating the truth of what happened, and finding justice for them.
  • Help all the members of your community to understand the intricacies of bias and privilege.

Build a diversity and inclusion team

If you are truly serious about ensuring that your community is inclusive and a safe place for people from different backgrounds, consider building a team whose sole focus is to oversee this endeavor. You can have them attend helpful seminars on the subject so that they can have theoretical knowledge before they dive into the mission. Make sure it’s made up of people of different ages, races, and genders too so that they already have a good grasp of the goal.

We live in a time when more and more people are aware of systematic inequalities and why the world is set up in a way that is not very helpful to marginalized communities. If you have any form of influence in your community or organization, make sure to use it to help center those in the margins. It may be difficult, but it’s a worthy endeavor.

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