7 Powerful Ways To Promote Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion
The changes related to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will significantly improve an organization. DEI creates an environment where people from various backgrounds are able to share different ideas, skills, and insights. This environment ensures that every team member feels involved and supported. It is not simply an environment where diverse individuals are present, but rather where diverse individuals are involved, empowered, and developed. A diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization requires respectful efforts from every team member to work towards success. It’s important that employees feel safe working together in a space without fear or discomfort. When everyone is involved, potential grows and professionalism thrives.
Awareness Of Bias
A signature trait of inclusive leadership is the cognizance of bias. Everyone has biases- we all have subjective views that are influenced by our beliefs, values, experiences, and peers. Inclusive leaders are mindful and committed to learning about their personal and organizational biases, and will work towards developing corrective strategies. This does not mean simply pretending as though they do not have biases; rather, it is about owning the biases that exist and actively working to make changes. It involves recognizing the moments in which we are most vulnerable to biases. Self-awareness is crucial in order to recognize personal biases, in which acting on that self-awareness will help to mitigate systemic issues.
Responding To Microagressions
Microaggressions are everyday insults, snubs, or actions of discrimination that negatively target a marginalized individual or group. They may be intentional or accidental, and take the shape of jokes, questions, or casual remarks. A microaggression may be expressed verbally, or through gestures and other nonverbal behaviors. Microaggressions communicate hostility and derogatory feelings. The elimination of microaggressions in the workplace requires continuous efforts from every team member. The key is to address these behaviors in a way that focuses on a positive company culture. This includes conscious thinking and using respectful language.
For someone who has communicated a microaggression:
- Listen and understand the individual’s concerns: Allow the individual to express their feelings. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.
- Acknowledge and apologize: Since the impact of the message matters the most, it is important that this is addressed first.
- Don’t make the situation about yourself: Avoid becoming defensive or attempting to explain yourself.
- Take responsibility: Be responsible when you have recognized that you have done or said something that has negatively impacted a marginalized group.
- Seek awareness and knowledge: Take proactive steps to prevent this from occurring again. Educate yourself to become better.
An inclusive work culture requires inclusive hiring. During the recruitment process, it is common for unconscious biases to affect hiring decisions. A recruiter may gravitate towards a particular candidate because of their appearance, background, or connection on a personal level. Inclusive recruiting and hiring involves connecting, recruiting, and offering equal job opportunities to candidates who have the expertise needed for the position from diverse backgrounds. It creates an equitable selection process that eliminates biases.
When the hiring process is inclusive, employees from all different backgrounds will feel supported, and there is a greater effort being put into building a diverse workforce. Inclusive hiring recognizes diversity and embraces the range of perspectives that these individuals can bring into an organization. Ultimately, the team will become stronger and grow efficiently.
Recognizing Holidays and Celebrations
An important part of building an inclusive company culture is to recognize the many different holidays and festivities that happen throughout the year. A diverse workplace accepts and accommodates for these differences. Since every employee has different celebrations and holiday traditions, it is best to take an inclusive approach. This way, everyone will feel respected and welcome. Inclusion involves taking the time to learn about diverse practices, and deciding on best practices to take an inclusive approach to these celebrations. By bringing awareness to diversity and inclusion events, it will help to set a standard for equality in the organization.
To enhance inclusivity with holidays and cultural events, consider the following:
- Have employees share details related to their cultural or religious practices
- Research diverse holidays
- Consider rephrasing your holiday greetings
- Have a diversity calendar as a tool to show religious, cultural, and historical events of diverse groups
- Be fair with time off requests and accommodations
- Bring awareness to others on diverse holidays
Implementing Inclusive Language
Language is a powerful tool; the words and phrases that we use matter. It’s important that we recognize the importance of our words and the impact that they hold. One of the key factors in fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization is to promote the use of inclusive language. Inclusive language is language that aims to include everyone. It is free from biases, limitations, stereotypes, and other forms of social exclusivity. A safe and successful environment requires us to think about how others will absorb the language that we use. Language can signify acceptance. We want to make sure that everyone feels accepted, acknowledged, and respected.
There are many ways to make language more inclusive, including:
- Using gender-neutral terms: This is language that does not identify a gender, and avoids biases towards a particular sex. For example, ‘humankind’ instead of ‘mankind’, or ‘chairperson’ instead of ‘chairman’.
- Use person-first language: Always put the individual before a disorder, disability or diagnosis, as they do not define the individual’s identity.
- Do not use someone’s culture, race, disability, or identity as a reference: Never use someone’s traits as a reference during a conversation, or introduce someone by describing the traits that tend to marginalize the individual.
- Choose accepted and widespread terminology: Always be mindful of terms that are related to one’s ethnicity, race, culture, etc. There are many terms that have roots in discrimination and racism.
- Use neutral, or preferred pronouns: Use pronouns that a person prefers to be associated with. When uncertain about an individual’s preferred pronouns, use gender-neutral pronouns like ‘they, theirs, them’.
- Avoid ableist and insensitive language: Many common phrases exist that are insensitive to an individual who is impacted by a medical condition. Be mindful and consider alternative terms. For example, ‘missed opportunity’ instead of ‘blind spot’, ‘person who is hard of hearing’ instead of ‘hearing-impaired’, or ‘ridiculous/outrageous’ instead of ‘crazy’.
Providing Resources and Accessability
A work environment should be functional and welcoming for everyone. The consideration of accessibility and proper resources are crucial for creating a culture of inclusivity. When employees arrive to work, they want to feel comfortable and safe. Accommodations can be put in place to meet the needs of employees, and to support any limitations in a proactive way. Reasonable accommodations can be made to equipment/software, job tasks, schedules, products, or services. Accessibility and resources must be constantly evaluated to ensure that everyone is able to perform the essential functions of their job. Employers should provide their team with communication, structural, and environmental support. When a work space is designed to be accessible to everyone, opportunities are created.
There are many ways an organization can support their employees with accessible designs, accommodations and proper resources, including:
- Having designated handicapped parking spaces
- Doors, hallways, restrooms, and desks that are wide enough to allow for wheelchairs, canes, and walkers
- Accessible buttons and one-touch door opening
- The control of lights, sound, and temperature
- Providing screen-reading software so that a message may be heard, rather than read
- Safe accommodations for pregnant employees, such as light duties, modifications, or other reasonable accommodations as requested by the employee
- Designated private areas for nursing mothers, that are not washrooms. This space should include a chair and a flat surface on which to place a breast pump
- Implementing wayfinding, braille lettering, and other graphical cues
- Gender-neutral washrooms
An important part of the equity, inclusion, and diversity conversation is allyship. Allyship is a powerful tool for attaining DEI related change. Being an ally involves learning and listening. It includes supportive behaviors, actions, and practices, as well as advocating with others from underrepresented groups, such as POC (people of color), LGBTQIA+, women, or people with disabilities. Allyship represents a long-lasting commitment to overcome the systemic barriers that exist. When we support others through allyship, we can work towards creating a safer workplace. Although an ally may not be a part of the marginalized group that they are supporting, they still make the continuous effort of their energy and time. No matter who we are, we all have the potential to become better allies.
To become a better ally in the workplace, consider the following:
- Understand personal privilege, implicit biases, and identity
- Use mistakes as a learning experience and growth
- Educate yourself, rather than waiting to be taught or shown
- Do not assume that every member of a marginalized community feels oppressed
- Be an upstander, rather than a bystander
- Listen with respect and a willingness to learn
- Do the work, every day
Are you ready to set your trainees up for success with these skills? Download our newly updated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workshop today!
Posted by Zachary Myers on