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Tips to build inclusive practises

Providing the same opportunities for all people does not necessarily mean that everyone can make the most of those opportunities. Inclusion is the practice of providing equity of access to opportunities and resources to people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised, but equal access is not always enough.

True inclusion requires the recognition that some individuals have different needs, and that these needs won’t be met within systems that assume everyone is the same.

Evidence shows that diversity in the workplace is beneficial to businesses, because it:

Five steps for inclusive language at work

Inclusive language is effective language – it is respectful, accurate and relevant to all.

Language that may be fine outside of work can be non-inclusive at work. Sometimes people can use terms about themselves or their friends that are not appropriate for others to use about someone in a work context.

Be open to changing what you have always thought is ‘normal, respectful and appropriate’ to say. You don’t have to be perfect – just be willing to learn.

If you’re not sure what terminology someone prefers, just ask them! Ask the person or contact organisations which make up and represent given diversity groups.

Focus on the person first, rather than the demographic group they belong to.  Only refer to an individuals age, cultural background, gender etc. if it is relevant.


Sometimes our unconscious biases mean we can say things that exclude others – even when we do not intend to.

Gender equality

Businesses can measure their progress on gender equality by considering how they perform acorss a number of indicators. The workplace gender equality indicators are:

Evidence shows that the best way to achieve lasting and widespread change is through a whole-of-organisation approach to gender equality. This includes creating a supportive workplace culture, building staff capacity to support gender equality, and embedding gender equality into organisational policies, systems and processes.

Actions could include:

  • Provide gender analysis training across your organisation, to support staff in undertaking gender impact assessments for policies, programs and services.
  • Consider existing policies, programs and services that could be reviewed with a gender lens outside of the legislated requirements for gender impact assessments.
  • Apply evaluation criteria relating to gender equality when procuring goods and services or when funding or providing grants to organisations. Similarly, consider how external consultants are briefed about gender equality or how it is factored into contracts.
  • Ensure any budgets developed for new policies, programs and services include consideration of gendered impacts.
  • Ensure adequate time and resources are allocated to this work. This could be through establishment of a cross-organisational gender equality steering group to resource, monitor and review work.
  • Aim to integrate gender equality into organisational frameworks and strategic documents and/or develop a gender equality statement of commitment.
  • Consider introducing standing items on meeting agendas or points in Terms-of-Reference that encourage reflection on gender equality, for example in decision-making processes, delegation of tasks, and how ideas are credited.
  • Embed gender equitable practices at training sessions, such as having a gender equality statement of commitment or code of conduct.
  • Consider how internal organisational reporting templates can include gender equality questions or prompts.

  • Leaders regularly communicate the importance of considering and promoting gender equality through policies, programs and services.
  • Organisational heads role model authentic and inclusive leadership both through their internal and external messaging and their day-to-day actions.
  • Provide relevant awareness and sensitivity training for all staff that is embedded in the annual training calendar. This could include training on gender equality, gender identity and sexual orientation, sexual harassment, cultural safety, bystander action and equal opportunity.
  • Use imagery and language in publications, public campaigns, advertisements or social media that promote gender equality and diversity and challenge gender stereotypes.
  • Embed a gender equality statement of commitment and relevant key performance indicators in job descriptions, job performance criteria and recruitment and selection processes.

  • Build a gender equality stakeholder map or strategy to ensure that your organisation has strong partnerships with local and state-wide gender equality specialist organisations to help drive gender equality – for example, women’s health organisations.
  • Ensure robust and transparent complaints processes are in place to allow community members to communicate gender inequality-related concerns with service delivery.
  • Establish mechanisms to routinely assess consumer/community needs and community consultation feedback by gender.
  • Build community awareness by publicly celebrating women’s achievements.
  • Ensure visibility of gender equality in community engagement processes, rather than hidden under broader diversity themes.

The Pay Equality Toolkit, developed by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to achieve pay equality in their workplace.

The toolkit gives business owners and leaders the resources they need to take action on the gender pay gap, including a Pay Equality Compass to help assess the strengths and opportunities for businesses, guides and templates for creating an equal pay policy.

The toolkit also provides a model for handling pay complaints and conducting a gender pay audit, and other practical tools for SMEs to meet their legal obligations, improve staff satisfaction and become an employer of choice.

The Equal pay matters: Achieving gender pay equality in small-to-medium enterprises report noted that smaller organisations have a limited understanding about the concept of equal pay and how it applies to them – that’s why this toolkit was so important.

Access the Toolkit

How to be an ally

Allyship in the workplace is crucial for inclusion and equality. An ally is often defined as someone who is not a member of a marginalised group but wants to support and take action to help others in that group. Be open to learning, listening and advocating.

Remaining silent during difficult events can negatively impact employee wellbeing. It’s best to acknowledge the situation, express concern and offer support. Consider whether staying neutral is an inclusive approach, or if it might make people feel marginalised.

It is important to show humanity and acknowledge the negative impact and emotional toll events can have on someone’s wellbeing. Allow space for people to discuss the issue should they choose to. Heartfelt thoughts can be extended to any colleagues and their families directly affected, and to communities more broadly.

Being exposed to images and stories of conflict, violence or traumatic events in the media can negatively impact our mental health and wellbeing. Focus on messages to reinforce the importance of self-care and strategies to reduce anxiety, as well as support services available.

Including access to an Employee Assistance Program or other support services, it is important to remind people of the range of supports available to them.

Some issues are harder to talk about than others and have the potential to be divisive with a range of perspectives and opinions. Encourage people to respect each other’s views and differences of opinion and be considerate, thoughtful, and respectful. Sometimes it can be an opportunity to educate yourself on an issue more.

Help raise awarenesss

Simple acts like door stickers, badges and signage can make everyone feel welcome. (Check out our resources for more great ideas!)

Supporting an event can help to support those that may feel marginalised, bond your team, raise awareness within your staff and customers, as well as the broader community.

Content updated April 2024

Accessibility and Inclusion

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