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5 signs your company is not inclusive and how to fix it

5 signs your company is not inclusive and how to fix it

Discrimination in the workplace takes many forms. This list of five signs will help you check if your office is really inclusive.

Diversity and inclusion have been workplace buzzwords in the Philippines recently, but the terms have been used interchangeably.

Diversity in the workplace initially referred to a company whose employees are racially and ethnically diverse. In recent years however, workplace diversity has become more encompassing and expanded to include other varying characteristics like a worker’s gender, age, religion, political beliefs, language, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, as well as physical abilities and disabilities.

Workplace inclusion, on the other hand, refers to a work environment where people feel comfortable and accepted. The office is described as a place where employees feel safe being themselves, confident that when they share ideas and opinions about the business, these will be thoughtfully considered and accepted.

Without an inclusive culture in the workplace, diversity means nothing. Here are five signs that your company is not inclusive, and how you can turn it into one.

1. People make fun of employees in the guise of cariño brutal

Cariño brutal is a Spanish term that most Filipinos are familiar with, and it literally translates to mean “brutal affection”.

It is commonly seen when unsentimental family members make malicious comments about a relative’s weight, or spew nasty remarks about someone’s skin color during intimate gatherings. When the remark is claimed as cariño brutal, relatives are expected to ignore or even laugh about what was said. The problem here is that the office is not where your family homecoming is taking place. It is a place where professionals are expected to behave well, professionally.

Teasing or calling attention to a colleague who is different from what is deemed normal by everyone else- whether it is because of the way they look, dress, or speak- is a definite no-no.

How to fix this:

Create a culture where people can speak up for those peers being ridiculed, even if it’s phrased as a joke. It’s never really okay to make fun of people.

Employers need to realize that it is important to create a safe space for their staff, after all, unhappy employees tend to be 10% less productive. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that company leaders should be accountable and committed to instilling principles that promote confidence among employees.

Ridicule in and outside the workplace is rooted in discrimination. To combat this in a professional setting, hirers can create sound policies that can alleviate bias as well as regulations when it comes to dealing with other sensitive topics. Here are some guidelines to composing some of these directives.

  • While it is near impossible to prohibit employees from expressing opinions, companies can temper the situation by banning foul language, profanity, and comments with malicious intent against the company and/or colleagues. Ensure proper and consistent sanctions when this is violated.

  • Promote a culture of trust. In the SHRM report, lawyer Tyree Jones explained: "A culture of trust must be institutionalized and operationalized through the policies and practices of the company...The company should establish a culture of feedback that is reliant on employee suggestions for continuous workplace improvement."

It’s up to leaders of the organization to direct the company towards inclusion and diversity. From higher-ups to human resources, the company should clearly define and reiterate its stance on social justice and respect for everyone to comprehend. Esquire Karima Mariama-Arthur told Forbes: “[They] must be proactive about creating diversity, as well as encouraging participation and acceptance within the workplace as a cultural imperative.”

Assuming that you have diversity in the workplace and that your team has a wide age range, you want to be a workplace that will attract a good mix of veteran practitioners and be a magnet for Gen Z workers. Help set your team’s culture in the right direction by enabling employees to regard each other with respect, particularly in the way they speak to each other.

2. Venting about someone is regarded as normal 

Venting is more complicated than just airing out your frustrations. When you habitually complain about the system, the situation, or just someone at work, you will not only exhaust the patience of colleagues who are subjected to your incessant whining, you will also damage your relationship with the person responsible for what you are actually venting about. In addition, your rants may just go beyond what is acceptable in terms of workplace ethics.

How to fix this:

Encourage a culture of constructive criticism and openness. This way, employees and colleagues will understand that professional comments are productive and not malicious. You may even schedule a meeting with your team or colleague to help make suggestions to your system.

One of the more common complaints in the workplace is having colleagues who get carried away with being productive at work, which end up making them overstep boundaries and forget that work can end during office hours. Here are some tips on how your employees can draw the line between work-life balance.

3. Your leaders take pride in micromanaging the staff

A subtle form of discrimination in the workplace is not giving your team member more elbow room to manage their deliverables. Micromanaging is counter-intuitive because it creates an environment of distrust which in turn erodes integrity in the workplace.

When someone is too obsessed with monitoring a team’s output or a situation at work, it will do the team more harm than good because this practice can breed resentment. When the slightest mistakes are called out, the message being conveyed is that the team member cannot be trusted to work by themselves. In extreme instances, this can even be thought of as workplace bullying.

How to fix this:

Establish a management system that will set objectives and expected measurable results within teams. Quarterly performance reviews are ideal since a three-month period is reasonably paced.

4. There is very poor non-verbal communication all around

This one is little bit tricky because it has become easier to keep our eyes on our smartphones to occupy idle time.

Since the workplace thrives on productivity, maintaining eye contact with colleagues needs to be brought back as part of workplace ethics. Other signs that poor non-verbal communication thrives in your workplace is when employees are being inattentive and interruptive when someone is talking or multi-tasking when talking to someone. This is especially difficult in this day and age when meetings have become mediated by screens.

When it comes to written communication, using the “cc all” button to shame someone in the thread is the online equivalent of workplace bullying.

How to fix this:

Surveys have already proven that people tend to zone out or be distracted during online meetings. One simple step that you can take is to require employees to turn on their cameras. This way you can encourage eye contact. Getting them out of their pajamas and allowing them to look presentable will also stimulate a more work-oriented mood.

Make sure that everyone is focused on the discussion and not doing anything else behind their screens. Some tips to make sure that everyone is engaged is to let them take turns in contributing ideas in the discussion. Also, keep the meeting brief but productive.

5. Your company encourages “silent spectators” 

We often hear how Asians are non-confrontational, but this mindset needs to be addressed.

More often than not, there will be a more aggressive team member who will pick on someone who seems passive, often just keeping quiet and smiling when they become the object of jokes. When onlookers see that the person being picked on just shrugs off the offense, they think that normal behavior dictates to let the situation continue. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Abusive people in the workplace make it look like workplace bullying is normal and acceptable when, in fact, it should not be tolerated in a company that claims to be serious about developing an inclusive culture.

How to fix this:

Let’s suppose that the people in the workplace with offensive habits may not be aware of their own behavior. Consider organizing mindfulness workshops that will touch on interpersonal relationships like communication styles, self-care and professionalism, or even setting personal boundaries in the workplace. Not only will the supposedly offensive individuals be more careful about how they speak and act, it will likewise help those people who have become serially offended to be more empowered and as a result recognize and set boundaries for themselves.

You can also set up an employee helpline where people can report unacceptable behavior they may have either experienced or witnessed on the sidelines. Assure your employees about the confidentiality of these channels and tell them that the function of human resource management becomes more efficient when reliable information and objective feedback is given.

Creating an inclusive culture can foster a healthy workplace environment, but having members in one team that shares the same values as the rest of the organization will help make an inclusive culture thrive. Get help on finding candidates that are a good fit for your company culture by using the JobStreet Talent Search.

You can also visit the Jobs and Resources Hub to get more ideas on how you can attract the right candidates that will add value to the operations of your organization.

At JobStreet, we believe in bringing you #JobsThatMatter. As a Career Partner, we are committed to helping all jobseekers find passion and purpose in every career choice. And as the number 1 Talent Partner in Asia, we connect employers with the right candidates who truly make a positive and lasting impact on the organization.

Discover Jobs That Matter. Visit JobStreet today.

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