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When you become an Inclusive Employers’ Member you grow your I&D team.

Your account manager works with you to understand your goals, your challenges and achievable next steps.

Do you need more support for your inclusive culture to thrive?

Learn about membership today

Why is policy development important?

We know that policies are an important part of organisational governance. Here we highlight the role policy development plays on creating inclusive cultures and how to prioritise inclusion across your suite of policies.

Policy provides structure and guidance

Policy development plays an important role in guiding decision-making, addressing challenges and promoting progress. We are living in a world that is constantly evolving, which means having policies in place is even more important.

Policies bring structure and support organisations to develop a systematic approach. This structure then supports a culture of fairness, accountability, and collaboration.

Policies are essential tools for governments, organisations, and institutions to navigate complex issues and create a better future for all. Policies are the vehicles that bring strategy to life.

Policies influence culture and inclusion

When an organisation prioritises policy development, it demonstrates that it has clear boundaries on how to approach all aspects of its work.  Policies reflect the culture an organisation wants to create. But this is only the first step.

Writing and developing policies inclusively is vital for organisations to promote equity, accessibility, and diversity. Inclusive policies:

  • Use inclusive language.
  • Consider accessibility.
  • Incorporate stakeholder input.
  • Address intersectionality.

Policies can be designed to be fair, comprehensive, and reflective of the diverse needs and experiences of the intended audience.

Inclusive policy development improves:

  • Understanding and compliance.
  • Engagement.
  • Ability to attract diverse talent.
  • Contributes towards a more inclusive and equitable organisational culture.

Why do policies need to have an inclusion lens?

We will now start to explore the do’s and don’ts of policy writing and development.

It’s important to remember that for policy development to be truly impactful your ‘inclusion lens’ needs to be applied at the beginning of the development process.  It can be very damaging, and not to mention costly if inclusion is only applied as an afterthought. Sweden’s snow clearing policy is a prime example of this. Keep reading to learn more.

Gender bias in Sweden’s snow clearing policy

The Gender Equality Initiative Team in Sweden reviewed the rate of pedestrian injuries and found that 79% of all overall pedestrian injuries occurred during the snowy, winter months. This might not be a surprising statistic, but what did raise a question was the fact that a staggering 69% of those injured were women.

So, the team set to work. They identified that snow was cleared first on main roads leading into the city, benefiting commuters; who were mostly men. The foot and cycle-paths were cleared last. This proved to be not so good for pedestrians and cyclists, who were very often women traveling with children in pushchairs.

“The estimated cost of these falls was SKr36m per winter, about USD$3.7m / £3m / €3.4m. By clearing paths first, accidents decreased by half and saved the local government money.”

Of course, the snow-clearing policy never intended to negatively impact pedestrians and cyclists in this way. It is more likely that there weren’t any women involved in the design and development of the policy.

This highlights how important it is to collaborate with your stakeholders. It can prevent you from unintentionally overlooking groups within your intended audiences.

Policies that aren’t inclusive might fail to consider the unique needs and circumstances of different groups. This results in certain groups facing disadvantages and barriers that prevent them from fully participating in society. As Sweden’s snow clearing example highlights.

“Inclusive policies aim to promote understanding, transparency, and equal treatment for all individuals. When policies are developed inclusively they should foster a sense of belonging and eliminate barriers to participation.”

Contact us for support on reviewing and rewriting your policies
An inclusion consultant helping a colleague review their policy at an office desk.

Prioritising diverse perspectives and needs

Applying your inclusion lens in policy development means that you are intentionally considering diverse perspectives, experiences, and needs. When we are deliberate and focused on inclusion we can strive to ‘design out’ some of the injustices and inequalities in society.

Inclusive policy development uses language, structure, and content that considers the diverse backgrounds, abilities, and identities of the policy users; the intended audience.

It goes beyond avoiding discriminatory language and extends to ensuring policies are accessible to everyone, regardless of their cultural, linguistic, or cognitive differences.

Inclusive policies aim to promote understanding, transparency, and equal treatment for all individuals. When policies are developed inclusively they should foster a sense of belonging and eliminate barriers to participation.

How can you start to prioritise inclusion in policy writing?

Here we share some top tips to support you in developing inclusive policies:

Inclusive language

Make sure your policies use words and phrases that do not exclude or marginalise any particular group. Avoid gendered language, discriminatory terms, and assumptions about individual’s abilities or identities. Instead, policies should use inclusive pronouns, neutral terms, and language that reflects a diverse range of experiences and perspectives.

Consider accessibility

Inclusive policies should be accessible to individuals with all abilities. This includes using plain language, avoiding jargon, and providing alternative formats, such as audio or braille, for individuals with visual impairments.

Policy development should also consider the needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities. This can be done by using clear headings, bullet points, and summaries to support understanding.

Incorporate stakeholder input

It is vital to actively seek input from stakeholders who represent diverse perspectives and experiences. This can include employees, community members, and individuals from marginalised groups.

By involving stakeholders in the policy development process, organisations can ensure that policies reflect the needs and concerns of those they impact.

Understanding and addressing intersectionality

Individuals’ experiences and identities are complex and intersecting. Policy development should consider the unique challenges faced by individuals who belong to multiple marginalised groups, such as women of colour or individuals with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+. By addressing intersectionality, policies can provide targeted support and equitable opportunities for all individuals.

Promote equity and fairness

These are just a few of the factors to consider, which will undoubtedly benefit your organisation when developing new policies.

When organisations get policy development right they promote equity and fairness. Impactful policies ensure that all individuals are treated equitably and have equal access to opportunities, regardless of their background or identity.

Inclusive policies also go a long way to increasing understanding and compliance; policies written inclusively are more likely to be understood and followed by employees. By using clear and accessible language, policies can be easily understood by all individuals. This promotes transparency and reduces the risk of misinterpretation or non-compliance.

Inclusive policies create a sense of belonging and encourage active participation from all stakeholders. When individuals feel that their unique needs and perspectives are valued and considered, they are more likely to engage with policy initiatives, provide feedback, and contribute to the overall success of the organisation.

Businesses that prioritise inclusive policy development also send a strong message to potential employees that they value inclusion and diversity. This can attract a diverse pool of talent and help organisations retain employees from underrepresented groups.

Support for inclusive policy development from Inclusive Employers

We are delighted to introduce our brand new CMI accredited course on Policy Development for Inclusion. The course is designed to provide learners with a deep understanding of the principles and practices involved in creating Inclusive policies.

Over the two day course, our expert trainers will guide you through a series of interactive sessions, case studies and practical exercises. You will learn how to analyse existing policies, identify gaps, and develop inclusive policy frameworks.

If you’re interested to learn how the course can support your inclusion goals please get in touch using the form below, we look forward to hearing from you.

Grow your team

When you become an Inclusive Employers’ Member you grow your I&D team.

Your account manager works with you to understand your goals, your challenges and achievable next steps.

Do you need more support for your inclusive culture to thrive?

Learn about membership today

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