CREATING A SAFE WORK CULTURE THAT IS DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE

By Connie Ekelund – President & CEO of Synergy CMC
“Transforming People & Organization through Culture, Leadership and Innovation”

If one of your top goals is to create a safe, diverse and inclusive work culture, you’re not alone.

Ultimately the organization’s success is dependent on taking this very seriously. Millennials and Gen Z’er are leading the surge demanding for a more fair, collaborative and transparent work environment. These savvy workers are insisting on proof of your commitment through your actions, not just lip service. Your corporate ethos needs to reflect the true culture, or you’ll lose them before the second interview.

 

8 IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED RIGHT AWAY:

 

1). OPEN UP TO NEW IDEAS

To truly create a culture of inclusion, clearing out old-school traditional ways and ‘old boys network’ exclusionary behaviour is required. Opening up to new ideas shows your employees that you’re committed to seeing new perspectives and opportunities. If you communicate, educate and train your employees why change is necessary, it will reduce or eliminate push back. There will always be resistance and it’s inevitable that some employees will prefer their ideal of status quo, so be prepared to lose a few along the road of progress.

 

2). GIVE INDIVIDUALS A VOICE

Employees at all levels want to voice their concerns, offer thoughts and opinions as well as recommend changes for the better. Being urged to voice one’s opinions engages people, creates trust and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to an inclusive working environment. Help give employees a stage to sharing ideas, thoughts, and voicing concerns – without fear of retribution or penalties. Try implementing a few of these opportunities at your company – forums, meet-ups, lunch or coffee connections, all-hands meetings and an open-door policy for management and executives.

 

3). #METOO

It’s a fact that inappropriate workplace behaviours and sexual harassment have been around forever, but a recent a surge of celebrity #MeToo tell-alls have come out making this a very hot topic again.  Your organization should be able to guarantee that each employee feels safe at work. Unwanted attention can undermine their sense of personal dignity and prevent them from doing their job effectively, or reach their full potential, not to mention poison the work environment. If you don’t have a strategy for protecting your employees from a verbal or physical abuse, then set it as the highest priority.

 

4). DEMONSTRATE AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE IN CAREER POSTINGS

Potential employees can take in a great deal from what you say in your employment opportunities. While it is enticing to use buzzwords or trendy expressions to grab a candidate’s attention, this approach is detrimental to the results you actually want to achieve. Clichés can unconsciously dismiss candidates from varying backgrounds and diminish the pool of qualified candidates. Steer clear of using gendered specific terms in the career postings, avoiding terms like “he” and “him”.

Be sure to check your Glassdoor ratings regularly. Respond to every posting. Take the opportunity to acknowledge the incident, and learn from it what went wrong. Your genuine empathy and compassion are critical. Only offer thought-provoking and solution-based responses.

 

5). BATTLE UNCONSCIOUS BIASES

Unconscious biases are the tricky and unsafe antagonists to an inclusive and diverse workforce. Regardless of how tolerant and moral an individual may think they are, many of us have unconscious biases. A smart organization can skillfully enable employees to recognize and change their unconscious biases to create a more inclusive work culture through awareness, education and training to eliminate stereotyping.

 

6). ENCOURAGE SOCIAL OPEN-DOORS

Individuals should not be characterized by what they do at work. An enrolling and inviting organizational culture gives employees the chance to interact on a more individual level. Create the environment that encourages social behaviour. This gives employees the opportunity to discuss things other than work, which can help them to find and value their colleague’s unique personalities and interests, thereby eliminating assumptions people tend to make when they really don’t know someone.

 

7). INDIVIDUALIZED PERKS

Review your organization’s benefits package and consider ways they can better support a diverse workforce. For example, could you give a more powerful family leave bundles to workers or offer donation matching to a charity of employee’s choice? Both could improve inclusion in the working environment. Create opportunities to empower as much personalization of benefits as possible, from medical coverage to educational and loan repayment to fitness programs and extra circular learning. Doing this demonstrates that your organization recognizes and welcomes the way that each employee is an individual with their own unique needs, wants and desires.

 

8). TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR FRIEND

Technology is not a trend when it comes to understanding your people, it’s here to stay, so lean in. Your organization should embrace what’s available through machine learning and AI, so that you can learn from your employees by listening to them, understanding who they are and what they want to be successful. In doing so, you will be able to put the right people in the right seats and use analytical data and heat maps to foresee upcoming trends as well as issues or opportunities.

 

Although these are only a few key ideas that you’ll need to delve into much deeper, you should take serious note here that supporting your employees to feel and be their best-selves at work will enable them to operate at peak performance,  which of course… will increase your bottom line.

 

Think Bigger

Create a culture of performance. Cause breakthrough results.

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