2020 brought about many challenges and brought to light many issues that needed to be addressed – one of the top issues being about racial equality. The Whitehouse even put out an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government just this month. Clearly it is an important issue for our society, so how should business take this into account and implement procedures accordingly?
1. Develop a Strategy for Inclusive Culture
Business leaders tend to think that how people are treated in an organization reflects how inclusive the culture is.
However, strategy plays an important role in influencing culture. It is the ultimate driver of organizational decision-making and resource allocation, while culture is meant to support the execution of strategy.
This will take more than DE&I training as a one-time event. Within smaller teams, for example, managers must establish psychologically safe environments in which people can be fully themselves and talk about their experiences.
Rather than taking a reactive approach with the induction of guilt and anxiety — if we don’t become more diverse, we will be vilified — organizations must be more proactive by taking strategic actions to thrive in a world that is becoming increasingly more diverse.
2. Connect with Your Employees
We invite you to consider the relationships you have with your employees at the moment. Do you think that the way you interact with your team members makes them comfortable to be open with you?
Truth is that the only way you can create an inclusive office is if everyone feels like they can speak to you and not be judged.
So as the first step in this journey to inclusion, make an active effort to connect with your employees authentically and at a personal level. Don’t make any assumptions about people’s lifestyles, but rather, let them open up to you.
Do keep in mind that this attitude might lead to some difficult conversations. Unfortunately, not everyone will adhere to an inclusive mindset.
As such, it’s crucial that you are well-prepared for these conversations, by knowing what to do if a client, partner, employee or manager judges or excludes someone and being prepared to stand by your beliefs even when someone is trying to challenge them.
Harvard has even compiled a list of resources for racism education, which can be found here.
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