Taking the initiative to start improving diversity and inclusion in your workplace is a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately, adopting such a complex process to your company can be challenging, especially since there’s no one way to do so. From correctly identifying barriers and biases, to implementing solutions, and everything in between, D&I is no small task. Here are some common pitfalls to be aware of, and how to avoid them.
At the end of the day, you’re making changes for the benefit of your staff — which, in effect, benefits your business! They should really be involved in the journey as well and encouraged to take part in conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion initiatives. Having first-hand experience working under your company’s policies and in the environment you’re fostering, they can offer valuable perspectives, ideas, and feedback. Keep in mind that individuals from traditionally marginalized groups may have a vastly different experience than the executive team that’s working to bolster diversity, so it’s vital to get their insights. Consider offering anonymous feedback forms, or hosting small-group discussions in a safe space.
An open-door policy is all good and well, but many forget to explicitly outline protective measures for those who come forward. Retribution and loss of job security is a very real fear that holds many back from offering their honest opinions. It’s good practice to make it well known that all feedback is welcomed and make sure employees are aware of how the company is working to protect them. This might include:
The main takeaway is to back your team up and make sure they know they have a safe space to speak up.
In an effort to educate the office and increase awareness, inclusion training sessions and diversity workshops are usually the first on the checklist. The sentiment is well-intentioned, but traditional seminars can make D&I seem like a chore. When working to foster a more inclusive environment, it’s vital to keep the topic positive and the prospect of change exciting. Try to make learning activities engaging and encourage active participation so that your team isn’t just sitting through presentations. Guide open discussions or, better yet, have your employees lead them. Let your team help shape the future of D&I in their company.
Just because your business has made some big changes and seen a fair amount of progress doesn’t mean the job is done! Industries, workplaces, and people are everchanging, so it’s imperative to continue adapting your strategies. This is an iterative process, so expect some ongoing work and, with it, continued growth. Regularly ask for feedback, suggestions, and ideas. Continue to support learning about D&I initiatives both inside your business’ bubble and beyond.
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