This year, TEDXSydney took community to a whole new level with the introduction of Tribes, which were created when attendees chose from a set of stickers representing different aspects of themselves (like Newbie, Veteran, Single & Open to Romance etc) on their badges. It was a bid to highlight our commonalities and explore the International Convention Centre (ICC) in an inclusive and interactive way. Even if you didn’t join a tribe, there were plenty of ideas at the event to help HR managers strengthen the inclusiveness of your workplace.

Learning By Listening

Listening sounds simple enough, but it can be surprisingly difficult to practice effectively. In fact there is an Aboriginal word, Dadirri, to describe ‘Deep Listening’ that doesn’t even exist in English. It’s tricky to find the right balance between professional and empathetic. But, according to Judy Atkinson, professor of Indigenous Studies at Southern Cross University, when people don’t listen with the intent to learn, they fail to learn from past errors and end up repeating them. It can be easy to cut off a troubled worker and jump straight into a band-aid solution that’s normal procedure. Long term solutions require HR managers to stop talking and actively listen to workplace problems. That way, ineffective methods can be abandoned and new, helpful ones can be put in place.

Give a Voice to the Silent

According to a 2013 study, around 60 per cent of harassment cases go unreported to HR in the workplace. In her speech, freelance journalist Jane Gilmore used news headlines about violence against women and children to illustrate the way in which female victims are often portrayed as liars or are inferred to share some guilt with the perpetrator. As a result, people fear speaking up about incidents or develop an unconscious bias, which means problems are ignored. It’s important to develop a safe and honest workplace so that harassment of any kind can be addressed and proper action takes place.

The Diversity Dividend

On average, someone with a “foreign” sounding name needs to send 68 per cent more job applications than if they had an Anglo-Saxon name. Diversity is more than just a trendy topic, argues lawyer and social advocate Mariam Veiszadeh. It’s not enough for companies to acknowledge that gender and culture bias exist - they need to put their money where their mouth is and bring non-white, non-male people into their work spaces. A more diverse workplace not only helps to reflect our multicultural society but diverse companies are shown to be 35 per cent more likely to receive financial returns above their peers. Next time the company is hiring be sure to not let a name unconsciously get in the way of a great employee.

Access For Everyone

Diversity doesn’t end at culture and gender, employees with a disability need better inclusion. As a result, Paralympian and circus performer Sarah Houbolt argues that work environments need to be accessible to individuals of all abilities. She cites her experience of a dance studio designed so that everyone could learn and support each other without breaking rhythm. People living with disability can make great contributions but only if their work place has an intent to integrate them rather than work around them. It’s time to consider whether everything is being done for greater inclusion and putting that at the forefront.

Not Everyone Works the Same

A person can thrive during a boardroom presentation but crumble talking to co-workers at the water cooler. Musician Jordan Raskopoulos calls it being “shy loud.” Some people need specific working conditions to be productive. Some work better with a group, others alone or they need a strict deadline or a lot of time to plan. It’s essential to understand that everyone works differently and accommodate where possible. If someone is constantly being thrown into tasks that they are not comfortable in, it creates a hostile and uneasy work environment for everyone. It’s important to understand the way in which the same work gets done varies from person to person.

A tribe is only as a strong as individuals that make up that tribe. By paying attention to the workplace you can ensure it’s an inclusive and stable environment to work in. Good HR starts with humanity after all.