If you’re concerned about the level of inclusivity that exists in your workplace, there are a few important ways to help make sure it gets implemented across the board. But what kinds of things should you be doing, exactly? And how do you keep yourself from losing sight of this kind of goal?
It’s a great idea to model inclusivity to everyone positioned below you on the totem pole, as well as encourage more diversity in more senior positions. You can also be more certain that you’re hitting all of the company’s individual needs by listening to your employees’ concerns, regardless of their level of seniority. It’s also smart to utilize the materials compiled at a government level, both from your state and from other entities that follow more progressive standards of procedure.
Encourage People of Color to Apply for Senior Positions
If you head a business that generally follows a practice of promoting from within, it’s a smart idea to encourage your talented subordinates to apply for opening positions. That’s especially encouraged by Noel Jones, the PR Coordinator of Brandon Blackwood.
Noel Jones explains that “The only way you can make your business its best is by encouraging your very best employees to move up in the company, especially by opening up opportunities for those who wouldn’t ordinarily get those kinds of opportunities. Don’t pick your favorites. Pick the hardest workers and the most forward-thinking employees, and urge them to move up.”
By making sure that positions are open to people of color and those who ordinarily wouldn’t get higher-up opportunities in traditional workspaces, you’re not only helping them get ahead in life. Doing this allows your company to use new ideas that generally aren’t heard. This can also increase employee morale, as you’re rewarding hard work and making your team members feel seen.
Require All Employees to Take Anti-Harassment Classes
While this is becoming more commonplace across the United States, it’s still a great idea to reinforce the requirement of taking classes promoting good workplace behavior. For example, classes that are against sexual harassment and bullying are great spots to start.
If you need a little more encouragement to get started with this practice, listen to Matt Miller, the Founder and CEO of Embroker. According to Matt Miller, “Every workplace should require classes that promote good behavior when around coworkers. Not only should these practices be promoted, but these negative behaviors should be actively spoken out against by those in positions of seniority.”
Even better than simply listening to your state’s requirements is establishing a strong and progressive moral code as your business’s standard practices. That may mean you require other courses to be taken on company time, as well as more frequently, to show all team members exactly where the company stands.
Practice Using Non-Gendered Language
Using language that is gendered, such as saying “ladies and gentlemen” at the start of a meeting, is considered to be pretty traditional and commonplace language. But did you know this kind of language can be pretty offensive to those who don’t identify as either a man or a woman? As there is a growing understanding of the gender spectrum, more people are no longer identifying with the gender binary.
In response to this, Mark Sider, CEO and Co-Founder of Greater Than explains what they did to change course. “Other than asking people their preferred pronouns, regardless of the level of seniority, it’s best to talk to everyone in a group without using gendered language. Say ‘hey all’ or ‘hi everyone’ instead of ‘hello girls and boys’ or whatever. It’s a tough habit to break, but an easy switch to make.”
Listen to Employee Concerns Across All Levels
Whether you have an anonymous comments box or you offer some kind of company-wide office hours, it’s a bright idea to listen to all of your employees. Better yet, have a combination of the two, allowing people to bring up concerns independently and anonymously and then grant opportunities to discuss issues more extensively.
Max Schwartzapfel, the CMO of Fighting For You, follows this idea in their moral beliefs. “Let people, regardless of whether they’re your junior or not, speak to you about their worries. That allows you to address problems before they blow out of proportion, but it also lets you create a culture of honesty and transparency.” That sounds pretty fantastic.
Use the Good Ideas, Even if They Come From the Interns
Similar to the last suggestion, try to use the best ideas to improve your company’s product ideas, output, and everything in between. Do this even if you need to acknowledge that someone your junior had a good idea, or even a better idea than you did. That allows the business to grow more quickly as a whole.
Dr. Susan Hockfield, the 16th president of MIT, explains this concept well. “Creating a culture of inclusion is not an optional exercise; it is the indispensable precondition that enables us to capitalize on our diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences so that we can better advance the fundamental research and education mission of MIT.” But this doesn’t only apply to MIT’s environment, as this concept can be applied to every company culture across the country.
Don’t Treat People Differently
It’s important that you don’t treat each employee on the same level very differently. That doesn’t mean rejecting requests for time off so they are no longer able to follow their religious practices that differ from the rest of the team. Actually, it just means treating everyone with the same level of respect, considering their ideas, and talking to them like they’re a person as complex and important as you are.
The current co-host of Gay USA, Ann Northrop, explains this idea clearly. Northrop says, “Don’t tolerate me as different. Accept me as part of the spectrum of normalcy.” The co-host also works as a journalist and performs activism in line with personally respected morals.
If you’re looking to create a positive and inclusive culture in your workplace, these aren’t the only steps and practices you should be following. In fact, your company’s needs may vary greatly from another’s. However, these are a great starting point if you’d like to make a difference.
You may need to make fewer changes if you have already instilled more progressive practices at work, or you may need to take action at a much larger scale than the average workplace. Whatever your position, all that matters is you’re trying to make progress toward improvement at work.