Being an Inclusive Company is a Journey…

You have to take the first steps.

Recent events have sparked a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, or shall I say, the lack thereof in many companies and organizations.

For those of you who know me, you know justice is my core value, and that I spend much of my personal time fighting for social justice and equity.

There are some people who want to complain about the companies who are just now focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion. They say those companies are just jumping on a bandwagon.  You know what?  Whatever the spark… I’ll take the flame.

I’ll take the conversations about race.  I’ll take the conversations about equity.  I’ll take the look around the boardroom with new eyes at the glaring lack of diversity.  I’ll take the social media posts supporting Black Lives Matters, Social Justice, Gender Equity, Pride Month.  I’ll take the reaching out for help in efforts to be a more inclusive culture. 

Companies have to take the first step, and I’m happy to help them do that…as long as they continue taking the steps and realize this is a journey.

Several of our clients are reaching out to ask, “How can we do better?”

Let’s start by doing “1 percent better”, as my peer Toussaint Bailey of the Just Listen Project calls it.

Here are some ways you can take a few steps on your journey towards inclusion.

  1. Hire & Promote for Inclusion

Do your job adds appeal to everyone?  Or do you use words land wrong on some people?

Are those education and experience requirements necessary?  Or do you eliminate some candidates because of an education gap or by traditionally gendered roles?

  1. Hire & Promote with Intention

Are you using objective criteria to help mitigate bias that seeps into your hiring and promotion practices? 

Are you fostering relationships that cultivate diverse applicant pools?

  1. Build a Culture of Psychological Safety

Do all of your employees feel like their voices can be heard, without fear of reprise?  If you don’t have psychological safety, your employees won’t even feel safe to tell you if they don’t believe your culture is inclusive for all.

  1. Teach Cultural Intelligence

Are you educating your leaders at all levels to have the cultural intelligence to be even able to understand, much less talk about, equity and inclusion? 

  1. Teach Mindset

We all have triggers, based upon our life experiences.  Marginalized groups experience what I call “death by a million papercuts” from the accumulation of assumptions that negatively impact them at work.  An “honest mistake” to one person, could be the one millionth papercut to the other.

Are you teaching people how to evaluate and embrace those resulting emotions of themselves and peers? Perspective is power when it comes to team performance.

  1. Talk and Listen

Are you creating space for people to talk and listen?

  1. Change the water

I like to say, stop trying to change the fish…change the water!

Have you reviewed your policies and procedures for adverse impact on some groups of people?   In other words, do you have antiquated playbooks that were built for white men by white men?

  1. Set Some Realistic Goals

Numbers don’t have opinions…  

If you look around and are surprised by the lack of diversity, start doing something about it!

  1. Don’t Tolerate Bad Behaviors

You get what you tolerate.  Even if someone didn’t “mean it”.  Stop allowing people to speak and behave in ways that are not inclusive.

  1. Celebrate and Reward Inclusion

When leaders at any level demonstrate being stewards of good culture, reward them, celebrate them.

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