When I first tried to create an inclusive company, I thought I was doing everything right. After all, I opened up the office, got rid of the cubicles, and carved out time in morning meetings for group yoga and deep breathing. Wasn’t that all I needed to do?
I thought that if I built it, they would come. But, I soon found out that inclusivity isn’t anything like Field of Dreams.
Don’t get me wrong. I had vital policies in place, and on the outside looking in, my company appeared to be inclusive. But, when I surveyed my team, I realized that inclusion had more to do with community than my corporation’s mission statement.
Now, I love talking to people and getting to know them, but I prefer to get things done when it comes to business. The need for community never ranked high on my radar. And if I’m being honest, I like to keep most dialogue centered around projects and deadlines.
But, it my team’s need for inclusion wasn’t about my need for comfort.
I was the leader. It was my responsibility to step out and step into their shoes.
I didn’t have a choice. But I did have a supportive team. They didn’t care that I wasn’t perfect. They were just glad that I was attempting to develop a better workplace.
So, are you ready to start your journey towards becoming more inclusive? If you are, then grab your journal and honestly answer these three questions. Don’t worry if you’re not where you want to be. The point of this article is to give you a starting point, not a guilt-trip.
You’ve got this.
So, without further adieu, on your mark, get set, GO!
Is Your Idea of Inclusivity A Marketing Campaign?
There’s nothing wrong with creating inclusive branding, but it shouldn’t be the only form of inclusivity. If the only pop of color is on your website, you need to address that and figure out why you’ve fostered a monocultural workplace.
Your company won’t progress forward if you keep exaggerating with photoshop.
If you’re willing to face the facts and be honest about where you are then you’ll be able to get where you want to go. It’s not about having it all together now. It’s about figuring out what needs to change to bring you to your future goals.
Inclusion is an ongoing process. You need to pivot and learn as you go. This requires you to survey your team, take courses, and even hire a coach to walk you through the process.
Do You View Inclusivity As A Fleeting Trend?
How would you feel if someone treated you like your personhood was a trend? Yet this happens to so many people daily.
Inclusivity is not about SEO. It’s not about making your company look good. In fact, if your only concern is appearances, then you might want to rethink your inclusivity plan. Inclusivity is about your employees, not your image.
Your LGBTQIA+ employees are not going to tolerate working for a company that sees them as a hashtag. They deserve better. And you can do a lot better for them.
Do You View Inclusivity As Optional?
Inclusivity is not just your responsibility. It’s the responsibility of your entire team.
One of the most significant things that you can do for your business is to create a sense of corporate engagement and participation. This doesn’t happen through micromanagement.
If you try to lead this on your own, you won’t create an inclusive company––you’ll create a safe space that only occurs when you’re present.
As the saying goes, When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
When developing an inclusive community for all of your employees, everyone should be under the same standards. Put your perspectives into policies. And make it easy for your business to operate holistically with the same mindset.
When everyone is informed, everyone can be apart of the implementation. Invite your whole company to walk with you and lead the change in their departments. Inclusive companies work together. They work as one and figure out how to create safe spaces for all.
So, are you ready to create an inclusive company this year? You might need to relearn some things before starting this journey. But if you’re willing to shift your mindset, understand what not to do, and set new standards, you will develop a workplace that is an inclusive environment for your whole company.
Remember, inclusion is not a hashtag, a trend, or an option. It’s a life––a life that should be valued and supported in the workplace.
As a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Leadership Strategist, Dr. Colleen Batchelder helps leaders create companies where Millennials want to work. Her doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives gives her an added edge because she approaches generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens. Connect with Dr. Batchelder on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.