We can’t turn on the news without coming across evidence of unrest surrounding diversity and equality in America. While it may seem like uncertain or even scary times in the nation or even around the globe, this is also a time of opportunity. Now more than ever, companies have an opportunity to prioritize workplace equality and diversity.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. However, according to the EEOC, almost $113 million is collected each year from employers. The cause? Racial discrimination violations. Don’t be one of those companies. Here are some simple steps to help establish equality and diversity in the workplace.
Continue the Conversation
The topics in the news are more than just headlines; they affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Keep the conversation about important topics such as racism, discrimination, and inclusion going by encouraging open, respectful discussions in your workplace. Employees should feel safe speaking to management about these issues, and management may use this as an opportunity to initiate productive conversations throughout the company.
Establish an Inclusive Culture
The core values your company sets will inform the policies, decisions, and processes that shape your workplace culture. Now is a good time to strengthen policies surrounding harassment and discrimination, raise expectations for employees’ behavior, and cultivate strong relationships with like-minded clients or business partners.
Provide employees with recourses that can improve their awareness. This can include company-wide trainings that address harassment, discrimination, and other challenges faced by minorities. When people know better, they can do better.
Likewise, hold your employees and company as a whole accountable. Don’t justify behaviors or turn a blind eye or deaf ear to toxic situations in the workplace.
Whether you like it or not, a company’s culture is set from the top down. Leadership within the organization must “practice what they preach” when it comes to workplace equality and diversity if you wish to make meaningful change. Take a look at company practices that may be driven by unconscious bias, such as the hiring process, for example. Seek out and accept feedback from employees and colleagues on these processes and practices. Improve where you can.
Inequality, discrimination, and incivility in the workplace are like a giant elephant in the room that no one wants to face or discuss; however, we cannot expect our workplace cultures to change themselves. Training is a great place to start, but it is only a beginning point. It is up to leadership to ensure the culture within the company is inclusive and actively seeks to improve policies, practices, and processes.
“And so, the challenge now is to grasp and shape history: to show that past grievances and injustices can give way to a new generosity of spirit and action.”
― John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1998
Good luck and stay safe!