Not too dissimilar to the playgrounds of elementary schools, the workplace can be just as confusing and sweaty… Okay maybe not sweaty, but the wise words of our parents seem to flood back as we enter the workplace like when we were dropped off for school to follow the golden rule, “treat others the way you want to be treated”.
But in the adult world of today and for the purpose of this article, we are going a step beyond just being nice to each other. We’re talking about being inclusive and becoming cognitive of people of all minority groups, religious backgrounds, sexuality, and gender identity.
11 Tips For Better Inclusion
- Form A Council
One of the easiest ways to ensure that people are heard and to hold the company accountable to business policies and environmental factors is to have a committee counsel filled with people who are passionate about celebrating diversity and inclusion. This is an easy way to help larger companies with hundreds of employees to stay current with inclusion and diversity issues and to keep the work culture in check.
2. Use Inclusive Language
Nothing is more awkward than when someone uses outdated verbiage to describe someone’s ethnicity or sexual orientation or identification. By putting an emphasis on proper pronouns and conversational words we can expel some of the discomfort that surrounds correct usage and makes people feel included into the work atmosphere and be truly themselves. Be careful to avoid harmful language, and if you do use language that offends someone, apologize correctly and do the work to prevent a repeat.
3. Celebrate Everyone’s Differences
From pride month, Juneteenth, Ramadan, and many other holidays (official or unofficial), it makes all the difference to employees when special events or holidays are celebrated company-wide. Having these holidays and celebrations recognized makes it easier for people to fulfill their personal values without it being taken out of their PTO or just not showing up for work. Being celebrated makes employees feel validated, seen, heard, and appreciated as individuals, not just a lump of people who happen to work at the same place.
4. Listen & Respond To Employees Promptly
Validation is key when it comes to listening to employee concerns, which means as leaders within your organization you need to be up to date in memos, emails, and conversations where employees open up and bring up concerns they have.“This will be taken under consideration at the next meeting”. How many times have we heard that? Every company has its protocol, but sitting on concerns for months to years at a time with no further discussion isn’t listening, it’s sweeping issues under the rug. Take active approaches with employees in addressing concerns they have to improve their work environment and make your company a more inclusive place to work at. Validation + Active Change + Consideration = a better validated employee who is more willing to voice their concerns, thoughts, and opinions without feelings of discouragement or resentment. If concerns aren’t being addressed employees are less likely to bring up ideas or thoughts that could propel your company onward and upward.. Why ask for change when it won’t be brought up till years later?
5. Nip Problems In The Bud
Hand in hand, when we listen and address individual concerns you are able to catch a problem before it becomes a toxic work environment. These can be addressed during 1:1 meetings with employees as you get to know the people around you and their goals, inside and outside of work. These are the perfect opportunities to gauge your employees and to build trust so when problems arise individuals feel comfortable talking about it without fear of retribution or embarrassment from either side of an issue.
6. Alert Leaders When Issues Arise
Don’t let issues fester amongst workers and supervisors, it’s important that leadership is aware of workplace issues so that they can be addressed quickly and appropriately, especially if it affects company environment and image on a larger level than a team. This also helps leadership to make effective decisions that directly affect workers in a timely manner.
7. Perception Matters
How a problem is handled or how company statements are perceived is an invaluable point in which relations between leadership and teammates, business owners and employees could go drastically wrong. A company may put out a policy with good intentions to be more inclusive and diversify their company but could be interpreted differently on the ground floor. It’s important to remember to review all policies or statements through a committee or counsel with diversity in seniority, background, and divisions within your company to ensure inclusion efforts are coming across in an appropriate manner.
8. Standardize Interview Questions/Hiring Process
Having a standardized set of questions at each part of the hiring process and in following interviews or performance reviews ensures that there is no bias being played and gives a level playing field for all employees to answer questions without having to worry about interviews being taken subjectively. Having an objective interview gives an unbiased solid baseline for improvement for the company and brings better representation to the company culture.
9. Reward Desired Behavior
Just as toddlers mimic adults in learning words and behavior, a parallel can be drawn with leadership and employees. In order to gain a specific work atmosphere, leadership from the top needs to be setting the example and use the trickle effect with the rest of leadership and team members. A way to accelerate this though is through rewarding members who are willing to go the extra mile or are making an effort to be inclusive. Many do this through gamified recognition programs or by encouraging voluntary workplace recognition. *cough, cough* check out more about employee appreciation here and learn about what Brightbox can do to help you.
10. Culture Add Versus “Fit”
When we are attempting to diversity or be inclusive with our employee demographic, it isn’t about how much a person fits within the organization’s current dynamics but rather how they add and improve dynamics between co-workers, teams, projects, or leadership. By having this change in mindset everyone is more apt to be open minded towards each other and learn together. This can lead to more employee engagement in team activities and company functions and employee retention. If you feel like you belong, you’re more likely to stay with a company.
11. Trust But Verify- Audit Your Recruitment System
We entrust much of our recruitment to talent scouts and believe that they will make the best decision in hiring potential candidates to open positions. But sometimes, inclusion issues begin at the very beginning of a new hire’s journey into the company. My neighbor who is a retired Army man often uses the phrase, “You can trust as many people as you want, but always verify”. Meaning, you can still entrust tasks or believe the best in everyone but you should always follow up and verify that tasks are being done or certain behaviors are being avoided or desired behavior is being exhibited. A company is only as good as its employees and if individuals aren’t meeting the standards set in appropriation to expectations then it needs to be rectified immediately.
We hope this is helpful when it comes to addressing ways that work can get better in this ever changing world. Many of these tips may seem big and daunting but it can start with each of you with small simple steps. Like sending a, “Welcome to the Team!” package to your remote workers, build a customized rainbow box to show support for your co-workers who celebrate LGBTQ+ month, or send a card with a video message expressing gratitude for the added value your team members bring to work projects.
It all starts with you, kindness and inclusivity doesn’t have to be hard.
The Brightbox Team