Diversity & Inclusion sessions are a part of every HR conference I’ve been to. And I don’t typically want to attend those session because the speakers usually talk a big game, but rarely do you come away from a session with some hard action items when you get home. Namely’s HR Redefined conference changed that for me. I almost didn’t go to the first session with Kellie Wagner from Collective, but a few minutes into the other session I was in, I knew that one wasn’t for me and a tweet from Vadim Liberman, which included a picture of a mostly empty room, got me to head over to that session.
Most organizations say they care about diversity, but it can be sometimes hard to see. And a lot of times, we think that diversity & inclusion are this big thing that we have to have a policy, an initiative. But it’s a lot easier than we are making it out to be.
@kelliemwagner of @collectivedei shares her passion for #diversity and inclusion with her presentation ‘Why Celebrating Team Diversity Should Be an Everyday Event’ on the #HRRedefined2019 main stage! pic.twitter.com/HeEXJ9vDuG— Namely (@NamelyHR) May 6, 2019
For inclusion: Employees want: meetings to be inclusive, where voices are heard and valued. They want opportunities for career advancement. They want accessible office environments. Now, it’s time to do those things. #HRRedefined2019— East Side Staffing (@EastSideStaff) May 6, 2019
We can take some small easy steps to make our office environments more welcoming to everyone (and no this does not mean ping pong tables or a pet friendly work place). So, what do employees really want when it comes to an inclusive work place?
Collective CEO Kellie Wagner talking about celebrating team #diversity in the workforce. She’s the first speaker I’ve heard in a while to highlight #disability as a form of diversity, and the unique challenges of being so in the workplace. Kudos to her. #HRRedefined2019 pic.twitter.com/MpDQufzJNc— Victorio Milian (@Victorio_M) May 6, 2019
Meetings that are inclusive encourage all voices to be heard. As a participant in any meeting, you can help encourage all voices to be heard by asking others for their opinion, ask someone who is your louder voice to be the note taker, send a recap and ask for follow up questions or comments – this is especially good for those who want or need more time to think of a response or mull through an idea, but end up scared to share later.
And how hard is it to make your office environment inclusive? We think about accommodations as meeting the ADA requirements. But we need to have a higher standard beyond simply meeting the legal threshold! Take a look around your office – does everyone “fit”? Can everyone get around easily? If the answer is no, are there things you can do to make it a little easier? Do you have any unnecessary “rules” around bathroom usage? None of us need to be the bathroom-police.
I’d wager the biggest inclusion issues center around the manager/employee relationship. We don’t want to be seen has having “bias” or treating our employees differently, but perhaps we need to look at this differently.
First, we all have biases. No one is 100% unbiased. You need to understand your own biases so you can ensure you are treating others properly. Affinity bias is real – we all prefer people who are like us (even those who like the “opposites attract”). Not everyone is motivated by the same things, so we need to understand who each employee is and what motivates them. We need to get away from the idea that we need to treat every single employee exactly the same. Equality isn’t necessarily fair or equitable.
Be sure you connect with your employees. Give and receive honest, actionable feedback to help everyone improve. Be a coach and a champion for your staff. Find someone you can give a hand up to.
A lot of these ideas come down to simply showing courtesy and respect to those you work with. I’d like to say “common courtesy,” but too often, we are not focused on the respect that all people deserve – we are focused on policies, procedures and laws. And while all those are important, I truly believe that if we focus first on courtesy and respect, we will not only meet the threshold for the policies, procedures and laws, but will exceed that threshold for a great place to work.
Disclosure: I was compensated for attending Namely’s HR Redefined conference and sharing my thoughts and commentary on the conference. No one at Namely directs what I am supposed to write or how I cover the conference – I am simply invited to share my impressions of the experience.