Change can feel intimidating, especially in the workplace where we spend the majority of our day, five out of seven days of the week. Operating as a healthy workplace, both financially and culturally, means that employees have to feel psychologically safe in their environment. Free to express a dissenting opinion or express their identity, even if it doesn’t fall within the majority standards when it comes to religion, race/color, sexuality or ability.
With guidance, patience and the establishment of strong boundaries, employers have the opportunity to help all team members play an active and central role in creating an inclusive workplace culture.
While mandatory training in the wake of an incident has been shown to be ineffective, exploring unconscious bias is an activity beneficial to every person within a professional environment. As an employer of choice, consider how you can support your employees’ journey to acknowledging and addressing their biases without judgment.
Platitudes and lofty goals don’t change the actual culture of a company. There needs to be investment of both time and other tangible and measurable resources into creating an inclusive workplace.
Start with creating an internal working group that owns the planning and ongoing work of creating inclusivity and belonging. Ensure that there is a plan with measurable goals, get feedback and insight from various teams about the plan, and benchmarks throughout implementation via employee surveys to ensure the plan is working.
Inclusive cultures don’t exist in a vacuum and without the input of others. Help people speak up by offering multiple methods of speaking up, from anonymous surveys to all-hands meetings to small groups. When leaders show that all voices matter, and they’ll go beyond the usual way of doing business to make sure that people are heard, employees are more apt to give input. However, don’t rely only on one-way communication; proactively seek out engagement in an authentic way on a regular basis.
Even with the best intentions and actions, it’s not a 100% guarantee that a company will get inclusivity and belonging right on the first go-round. So what does “failure” look like and what is the company’s plan to course correct when it’s established that the current plan isn’t working? Accountability and transparency help soften the blow of failure so be thorough when examining what doesn’t work and open to admitting what isn’t working, why, and what the leadership plans to do about it. Build trust and empathy, and employees will become advocates for improvement rather than critics of the failure.
Is your company a best practice case study on creating an inclusive workplace culture? We’d love to hear the story; sign up for your Kanarys account and share your story, take a survey and leave a rating and review for your former and current employer. www.kanarys.com. Find out more about Kanarys or contact us.
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