How to Encourage Inclusivity in Your Establishment
Inclusivity entails providing equal opportunities, access and resources to people who might otherwise be marginalized. It’s much more than a politically correct buzzword. It’s desirable, humanist — and quite possibly vital to your enterprise’s ongoing success.
Creating an inclusive organization attracts a diverse client base of people from varied backgrounds, abilities and belief systems. It sets you apart as a destination that truly cares for all its guests, driving customer loyalty and repeat business. Here are eight tips for how to encourage inclusivity in your establishment.
1. Recruit a Diverse Team
Representation matters. From a moral standpoint, it’s important to celebrate the beauty possessed by people of all colors, shapes and sizes, not only size-2 white models. From a business perspective, it benefits your bottom line. A survey of 3,000 women indicated they’re more likely to buy products from a model resembling their age, size and race.
Recruiting a diverse team has additional benefits for your establishment. These individuals understand how to build a spirit of community connectedness by making suggestions to improve inclusivity. They can also protect you from liability. For example, a disabled team member is more likely to notice and correct an ADA-compliance issue than a non-disabled peer.
2. Create a Safe Space
Inclusivity means mingling with people with various neurodivergence and spiritual practices. It means accepting that everyone is in a different place but is all human and worthy of being treated with dignity.
Creating safe spaces includes adding physical features such as quiet places in group play areas where those who grow overwhelmed with stimuli can relax. It can also include retreat locations where people can engage in spiritual worship or simply withdraw and collect their thoughts when overwhelmed with powerful emotions.
3. Extend Opportunities to Everyone
Inclusivity means including people with varied abilities at every level of your organization. Part of this mission involves spreading awareness of your practices. Your website and promotional materials should show that disability inclusion is part of your establishment’s key mission and values. Make it clear on social media posts that you welcome people of all races, ages, abilities, sexual identities, gender orientations, faiths and backgrounds are welcome.
You must also walk the walk by treating your team members concerning their disabilities. For example, staff members with chronic pain issues might need special seating accommodations when working the front desk or other positions that require prolonged standing. Those immunocompromised may continue to wear N95 or KN95 masks even as many guests go uncovered.
4. Model Inclusive Language
Language also matters when encouraging inclusivity in your establishment. Begin with pronouns. You can encourage staff members and guests to use the correct pronouns by including them in nametags and email signatures. Normalize asking your guests their pronouns and offering yours, perhaps as they check in, “Hello and welcome to our hotel. My name is…and my pronouns are she/her.”
Also, pay attention to exclusionary language when you speak. Instead of addressing a group as “you guys,” try, “hey, everybody.” Refer to people’s partners as their spouse or significant other instead of their husband or wife, especially if you aren’t sure of their sexual orientation. Take care when using American idioms — your international guests may not understand and mistakenly take offense.
5. Expand Your Holiday Calendar
Who couldn’t use more holidays? When making your company calendar, get more inclusive. For example, instead of having an office “Christmas” party, make it a holiday one — after all, there are numerous December celebrations in various cultures and religious faiths.
How can you ensure you respect all staff members’ beliefs? Why not send out a confidential survey? While you shouldn’t ask for details about their faith, it’s okay to ask what dates they celebrate when putting together your master calendar.
6. Ensure Your Design Allows Access
Your hotel’s physical layout should accommodate those guests with mobility devices. Per ADA rules, your establishment must provide accessible parking spaces, accessible ingress and egress and bathroom and room access. Furthermore, all public areas must be usable by those with disabilities. Phones should have options for the hearing impaired and signs should contain braille lettering so those with visual impairments can safely navigate.
Additionally, you shouldn’t charge extra fees for such amenities. You can even go further, helping parents of children with disabilities by providing small toys or gift packs that help soothe anxieties. For example, coloring is a mindful activity, and you can easily pick up bulk books and crayons for a modest investment.
7. Invest in Training
Ultimately, your staff determines how inclusive your hotel is through their actions and behaviors toward your guests. Please invest in regular training on inclusivity.
Fortunately, even empathy is a skill that you can teach. Denmark addresses the subject in public school, but you can fill in the gaps with mandatory retreats focusing on maximizing the guest experience by understanding it better.
8. Acknowledge Your Subconscious Biases
Finally, everyone is human. As such, you and everyone you know have subconscious biases. Admitting them is better than pretending they don’t exist.
If you don’t understand someone’s experience, ask. For example, one person with disabilities might welcome your help with their luggage. Others might take pride in getting it to the room by themselves. Inquire if you can give them a hand and respect their response.
How to Encourage Inclusivity in Your Establishment
Inclusivity is much more than a PC buzzword. It’s necessary for your ongoing business viability. The best hotels welcome guests of every background without discrimination.
Follow the eight tips above to encourage inclusivity in your establishment. You’ll enjoy happier staff and satisfied, repeat customers.