For the past years, workplaces began undergoing a significant reformation process. Structures are changing, hierarchies are becoming open spaces, and company values are being redefined. More than hard work, integrity, and grit—organizations are now propelled to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in every aspect of the modern workplace dynamics.
A diverse workforce opens a big room full of ideas and perspectives from people with different cultural backgrounds and ethnicity. An ongoing discussion about DE&I propels understanding and increases employee engagement. Empowering these ideas to be heard and recognized fell unto the responsibility of HR leaders who can foster DE&I programs that pioneer discussions about internal equity and equality.
However, creating DE&I initiatives is easier said than done. It will take a collective unlearning process of unconscious biases to build inclusion into your workplace. Implementing well-rounded DE&I training, programs, and information brigades that encapsulate inclusive behaviors requires intensive research and planning.
How to start organizing a DE&I strategy?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion start within. Assessing what is lacking inside your workplace and comparing it to the inclusion efforts that the company is doing can give you a head start on the areas that you need to work on more.
Test the waters first. HRs can tap managers to disseminate policies about equity and inclusion, or share news articles and video links to their subordinates. Below are some key topics essential in creating an inclusive workspace for everyone:
1. To understand the differences between diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
Diversity, in the simplest sense, can be defined as the considerable differences between groups of people, ideologies, or age, that set people apart. Beneath what’s heard and seen, diversity also refers to the way these differences are being recognized, accepted, and valued in a workplace.
Equity is the framework of an organization that provides fair access to employees—despite differences—to opportunities, career advancements, and policy representations. A fair work environment for all creates a balanced playing field where everyone is encouraged to join and play their part. Empowering qualified women and members of the LGBTQ+ community to be represented in senior management positions is a way to include equity in your work processes.
On the other hand, inclusivity is the belongingness that employees feel in their workplaces. It is how employees personally resonate with their job and the workspace that they belong to. This part is where DE&I programs should work holistically since it is the core of collective empathy and camaraderie.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all interconnected. Being aware of their differences will make your DE&I initiatives more targeted based on the needs of your workplace. Moreover, DE&I programs can boost employee experience, leading to an increase in productivity. It just goes to say that if you invest in your employees, the advantages that will return to you will be tenfold.
2. How to recognize microaggressions?
A systemic problem is a byproduct of accumulated microaggressions. In workplaces, this behavior may come in different forms like verbal and nonverbal cues, hostility and derogatory language, and unsolicited remarks attacking someone who is usually from a different race or background.
Is interrupting a woman in the middle of her report alright? Is it okay to assume a coworker’s orientation because they dress a certain way? Intentional or not, knowing how to stand up or mediate between these remarks is necessary for creating a safe workplace.
Teaching employees how to recognize these aggressions is a way to become more aware of the implications that these negative behaviors cause. Showing the entire thought process between microaggressions. Teach people the relevance of pronouns as identifiers. Tones and wordings come across differently for different individuals.
Learning about sensitivity can broaden the perspective of the majority on how much their action affects others. It also encourages people to check on their coworkers, and reflect on their responses whenever marginalized groups in the company are being treated that way.
3. Normalizing bystander intervention.
Humanity is rooted in the moral obligation that people have to each other. Without it, the world will be in chaos. It goes the same in the workplace.
“If it does not concern me, why should I care?”. There are many reasons why bystanders remain silent even when an injustice is happening right in front of them. Others fear isolation, while some don’t want to get caught up in the potential risk of career instability.
Fostering the right balance of individualism and taking one for the team is a way to establish camaraderie and empathy towards one another. Building trust and bonds within the workplace are how you make people care. If employees have a sense of collective responsibility to each other, you can count on anyone to stand up with coworkers. This also applies to those who are often subjected to aggressions and mistreatments against DE&I policies.
4. Building cultural awareness.
A work culture that respects ALL cultures can become a reality through DE&I programs. It starts with recognizing that not everyone practices the same belief, holidays, and traditions. DE&I initiatives like personalizing virtual bulletin boards help to communicate with colleagues during special occasions appropriately.
HR leaders can also make this initiative fun by creating communication plans showcasing these differences. It can be a blog getting to know a culture through an employee, or a “social-media-takeover” where someone can take pictures or produce a video about their holiday traditions, or how they cook breakfast from whichever part of the world they are working remotely as of the moment.
Aside from building awareness, these kinds of programs also target the sense of belongingness of an employee at work—hitting the entire values of DE&I at the same time. On top of that, an inclusive workplace can lead to higher employee retention. So, if employees feel valued for who they are—culture and all—they stay.
5. Anti-harassment in the workplace.
Work is one of the places where harassment and discrimination happen predominantly. This is why when creating DE&I programs, one should also emphasize how the initiative can address the possible harassment that might take place.
A safe and secure work environment should accompany these inclusivity and diversity pieces of training to ensure that everyone is safe from potential risks. Teaching self-defense and opening emergency helplines that are accessible any time of the day can be helpful for emergencies in the office.
As much as possible, DE&I programs should be able to prevent harassment from materializing. However, if worse comes to worst, these initiatives must be designed proactively—with plans ready to be implemented to help employees respond and heal from the trauma they experienced.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of the future of work.
It’s impossible to make a systemic reset overnight. However, you can always take little steps every day to create and implement data-driven DE&I programs. Remember—change doesn’t have to be grand to make an impact. It is the culmination of positive attitudes and hard work—that makes up for an inclusive workspace.
LEAD by example and start the conversation NOW.
Whether focused on developing or retaining diverse talent and inclusive culture, they’re strongest when they address your specific areas of concern and align with business objectives. To make your DE&I initiatives more impactful, leaders and employees should think and act as one. Start the conversation by organizing and inviting employees to #DEI_channel to share and discuss materials based on DE&I efforts. For best results, we recommend companies to set communication rules and add the rules as a hyperlink into LEAD.bot’s intro message before starting their DE&I matching programs. Maximize company culture and employee engagement platforms like LEAD.bot to promote and empower diversity, equity, and inclusion through matching channels. It is how you LEAD by example—by starting from within.