Most business owners focus on one thing to measure success: profitability. However, those who focus on the triple bottom line – which considers people and the planet alongside profitability – show even greater gains.

Building an inclusive business is all about considering the people component of this equation. Ensuring that you create a team and workplace where diversity is celebrated and everyone feels welcome has major benefits.

Focusing on inclusivity broadens perspectives and opens us up to richer life experiences. Being surrounded by people who are different to us makes us more receptive to and tolerant of new ideas. This is something we all need if we want to create a kinder world.

What’s more, an inclusive environment will encourage your employees to be more engaged (and therefore productive). You’re also 70% more likely to capture new markets  and attract top talent – which will compound these benefits.

This all-inclusive guide will give you the lowdown on what inclusivity is, the benefits it has for businesses and the people who interact with them, as well as how you can institute processes and create business practices that will help you to build an inclusive enterprise.

What Is Inclusivity?

Inclusivity is far more than just a buzzword or a fleeting fad. It’s a way of approaching social and business relationships that has a plethora of benefits. And it’s here to stay.

Before you can start building an inclusive business, though, you need to have a solid understanding of what inclusivity is and who you should be thinking about when implementing this practice.

How Do You Define Inclusivity?

Simply put, inclusivity is the practice of creating an environment where people who fall into different groups are able to participate equally. It’s about ensuring that people who might otherwise have been excluded or marginalized have the same access to resources and opportunities as others.

The practice is aimed at creating a more harmonious environment by considering individuals of all identities when making decisions, devising rules, and implementing regulations. In doing this, the hope is that everybody will feel accepted and be able to make valuable contributions.

Inclusivity is closely linked to diversity. In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. But there is a distinct difference between the two. While inclusivity relates to things we do to ensure people of different identities feel accepted, diversity is about the traits and characteristics that make people unique.

This means that you need to consider diversity – the qualities that make people who they are – if you want to create an inclusive environment. 

Diversity and Inclusivity: Who Needs To Be Included?

There are countless characteristics that people can use to identify themselves, from what they look like and where they’re from to who they’re attracted to and what they believe. Diversity is about accepting and respecting all of these different identities.

It can be a bit overwhelming to be inclusive when you’re faced with a seemingly endless list of diversity criteria. Here, it’s best to keep things simple. There are six major social identities that you can home in on when identifying who needs to be included by your business practices.


The way that we talk about gender has changed and expanded over the past couple of years. More than just focusing on biological sex (male vs female), gender inclusivity in the workplace must account for differences in gender identity and gender expression.

As they eschew gender norms, many people with non-traditional gender identities and expressions are often discriminated against, many times through unconscious bias. One example is not having all-gender bathrooms that individuals who don’t identify as either strictly male or female can use comfortably.

In addition to ensuring that men and women are represented equally in leadership positions and decision-making bodies, you’ll also want to ensure that you make space for individuals with varying gender identities and expressions.

Sexual Orientation

Related to – but different from – gender is sexual orientation. This is a person’s pattern of physcial, emotional, and sexual attraction to either one or more sexes or genders. In other words, while gender relates to how you think about yourself, sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to.

Automatically using the gender pronoun for the opposite sex when asking someone about their partner is an example of a common misstep here. This puts an LGBTQ+ individual in the position where they feel the need to explain themselves or their relationship, even when they may not be comfortable doing so.

Creating an environment where neutrality (e.g. using gender neutral pronouns) is favored and employees are encouraged to be themselves (e.g. having pictures of their families on their desks) can help to increase awareness and inclusivity here.

A note: LGBTQ+ is the phrase that you’ll likely have heard most when it comes to sexual orientation. However, it is also used as a blanket term to refer to both non-heterosexual and non-cis gender individuals.


Race is all about inherited biological characteristics like skin, hair, or eye color. While these features have nothing to do with a person’s inherent skills or abilities, centuries of prejudice and discrimination mean that there still plenty of harmful stereotypes that fuel racism in the workplace.

There are a variety of ways that racism can rear its head. Inappropriate jokes or comments based on racial stereotypes are obvious. Rules that have an outsized effect on employees because of their race (e.g. policies about hair that are written based on non-ethnic hair) less so.

Here, non-discrimination policies and sensitivity training can be a great help. Ensuring that everybody you work with is aware of what behaviors are harmful and why – as well as how to avoid them – will make for a more inclusive workplace.


People have varying physical and mental functionalities for a variety of reasons. This may be due to injuries, genetic conditions, or illness, or perhaps they weren’t provided with the same access to nutrition or education as others.

A major factor when it comes to ability is accessibility – for example, ensuring people who aren’t able to walk up stairs are able to access a building.

More than simply ensuring that there are physical enablers to help individuals of different abilities (like installing a wheelchair ramp), you’ll need to ensure that space is made for this type of inclusion in your policies and budget.


As the saying goes, age is just a number. However, there are plenty of stereotypes and prejudices that individuals of different age groups and generations face on a daily basis. These can affect not only the perception of a person’s abilities, but also opportunities they are presented with.

A common example of ageism is overlooking job applicants based on experience. This often happens when someone with many years’ experience applies for an entry-level job or when someone young applies for a managerial role. 

Rather than making snap judgments about someone’s value based on their age – or how young they may look – focus on their proven abilities and competencies. This will give every individual equal opportunity to solve problems and contribute towards solutions.


Sometimes lumped together with race, ethnicity refers to social groupings that are based on nationality as well as cultural and religious traditions. Rather than skin color or other features, ethnicity focuses on your heritage.

There are plenty of ethnic stereotypes. However, like other generalizations, they don’t necessarily hold true for the majority of people in these groups.

The best way to create ethnic inclusivity is to bring people from all different walks of life together in your workplace. Creating an environment where people of all different backgrounds are able to collaborate without the fear of being treated differently will go a long way.

This post was supplied to by Pay. and is part 1 of How to Build an Inclusive Business: The Ultimate Guide shown here