Four Ways To Create a More Inclusive Workplace

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If diversity means celebrating our differences we must respect and value a balanced range of perspectives and ensure we have a range of different voices in our team that are equally supported and heard.

Corporate culture, like many other parts of our patriarchal societies, have been designed with the lived experience of straight, white men in mind. But what about the rest of us? What efforts can we each make to turn our offices into environments where all professionals, regardless of their background, can flourish? Here are four ways to make work more inclusive:

1. Take stock of the identities that dominate your office

Research shows our lived experiences shape everything from how we think about the world to our motivations and cultural behaviours. Is there a particular type of person that’s well represented across the leadership team and beyond? If so, how could that dominant identity group impact company culture and views?

What risk is there that certain perspectives represented amongst your customer or client base are being missed due to your team make up? Spark up conversations with your team about whose voices matter to your work but are not represented in the team. Think of ways to expand your community and outreach to include these voices.

2. Recognize where you have privilege and therefore blind spots

Professor Michael Kimmel famously said, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” That means that privilege i.e. unearned advantages we gain through our identity, which we have no choice over, can be difficult to discern unless we actively consider the experiences of other people in our society who don’t share the same opportunities, choices and other advantages we have.

For example, as a cis gender heterosexual woman I have never had to experience the anxiety that comes with using a restroom in public buildings, or fear violence when walking hand in hand with my partner on holiday in exotic countries.

3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Look at the tragic events we’ve witnessed these past few years from the murder of George Floyd to the fatal shooting of Chris Kapa, both at the hands of the police. And let’s not forget the death of Belly Mujinga, who passed away from coronavirus which she contracted after an infected passenger spat at her at the station where she was working.

It is undeniable that our identify has a huge impact on how we navigate the world, and it has a huge impact on how others treat us. This is an uncomfortable truth that we must engage with regularly so we can take action to make the world more fair and equitable. Be willing to challenge racism, and other forms of discrimination wherever you hear them or see them.

4. Focus on your vision of the future

Fighting for equality and fair treatment of all identities takes guts. It’s not easy. The more you become aware of privilege and discrimination, the more you will see it play out in everything from the media, think about toxic headlines in the newspapers, to banter at the office, think of the types of jokes you’ve heard that made you stop and think. What has helped me do the work I do, challenging bias wherever I see it, is focusing on the future.

In the future I want to see more women especially Black women and other women of colour, leading teams and companies and really – doing whatever they want. Without the obstacles they face today. I wish this for all marginalised identities underrepresented at work everywhere.

Abadesi Osunsade is the Founder and CEO of Hustle Crew, a careers community for the underrepresented in tech and a diversity and inclusion consultancy on a mission to make teams more inclusive. Hustle Crew Membership is for anyone who wants to be an inclusion ambassador in their community, with weekly resources and monthly workshops to teach you how to drive change from £12/month. 

By: Niamh McCollum

 

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she’s covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Source: Four ways to create a more inclusive workplace | Marie Claire UK

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Critics by University of Massachusetts Global

As you analyze your own company culture, you’re likely wondering if your team has cultivated a positive or negative experience for your employees. If your company has difficulty attracting top talent or exhibits low employee morale, McCusker says these could be signs that your workplace culture needs improvement.

“I absolutely believe you can reverse a negative company culture — however it takes a lot of work, and likely some significant changes,” she adds. “It’s not a project, it’s a movement.”

Creating a positive company culture: 4 Expert tips

McCusker explains that the key to creating a positive work culture is knowing that it cannot be reverse-engineered. What works for one company, she elaborates, can’t be authentically replicated elsewhere. This is because workplace culture is not something that’s owned.

“It is the result of millions of little decisions over the lifetime of a company,” she says. “Because it’s organic, it will quickly change when left untended.”

As you strive to cultivate and maintain a positive culture within your organization, consider the following four pieces of advice from our business experts.

1. Identify your organization’s core values

While there’s no surefire recipe for achieving positivity within your work environment, every organization can benefit by analyzing a few key aspects of its identity. Sam Pardue, CEO and founder of window insert company Indow, highlights three cornerstones of a positive work culture: mission, vision and values. “They are simple, but hard to execute in a credible way,” he says, noting the following about each:

  • Mission provides the intrinsic motivation which makes employees excited to accomplish great things at work.
  • Vision helps them understand the destiny they are helping to create.
  • Values are the ways everyone agrees to work together.

If you hope to build up an employee base that is passionate, engaged and productive, begin by identifying a foundational mission your workers will find exciting.

2. Establish trust by representing those values

Culture coach and consultant Lizz Pellet notes that workplace culture travels from the top down. “Leaders create culture,” she says. “How members of a group take their culture cues is the way they see and perceive how the leader behaves — so what leaders focus on is critical.”

Pellet explains that if an organization’s leadership team is employee-focused, empathetic and authentic, it will send a calming message to employees that their leaders are there for them. That can help keep help improve engagement, productivity and even profitability.

McCusker agrees that cultural representation among leadership teams is crucial: Having a positive culture means seeing leaders at all levels living the values out loud. “It means having an employee experience that, at all touch points, is reflective of the company’s beliefs and values,” she adds.

3. Maintain clear and consistent expectations

One element most all of us need to achieve a sense of harmony is consistency. While teams across industries strive to achieve innovation in their product offerings, predictability is actually something many employees seek in a positive work culture. Pardue says it’s critical that your workers are able to fully grasp what’s expected of them.

“Employees want to know what the rules are, and that they will be enforced equally and in a predictable way,” he offers. “Unpredictability in management actions causes contempt and distrust — and ultimately destroys the culture.”

McCusker agrees that maintaining expectations at every level is essential. “I once heard a CEO say that if you are not willing to fire your top performing employee over behavior that is inconsistent with the culture, then your culture is not very strong and you do not truly believe in it.”

4. Ensure your employees feel valued

Creating a positive work culture isn’t simply about workplace happy hours and catered Friday lunches, notes senior partner at Partners in Leadership Jared Jones. “Real culture is rooted in an employee’s daily experiences, which in turn shape their beliefs,” he says. “These beliefs inform their actions, and actions lead to results.”

One survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that over 90 percent of employees who feel valued at work say they’re more motivated to do their best. That drops to just 33 percent among employees who don’t feel valued by their employers.

“Companies led by executives who create positive experiences by consistently offering and asking for constructive feedback, recognizing employees’ efforts during company meetings and even just saying ‘thank you’ on a regular basis lay the groundwork for a positive workplace culture,” Jones explains. He adds that the more employees see this type of behavior, the more valued and connected to the organization’s goals they’ll feel.

Build a positive workplace culture

Investing in your organization’s wellbeing calls for an honest assessment of your company ethos. Take time to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Then, let the insight from our business experts guide you in creating a positive work culture that can support your organization’s future success.

Once you lay a good foundation, it might feel like the sky’s the limit. You can learn to harness that energy and funnel it into positive results from the beginning by setting goals that are both challenging and attainable. Learn more by reading our article, “How to measure organizational performance: The secret to effective goal setting.”

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Related contents:

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There are 7 types of bosses, says workplace culture expert—and only 1 is worth working for CNBC

 
 
 
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