In my earlier blog post, I shared a situation where leaders want to start a diversity and inclusion forum. They debate the need and how their peers are ahead of the curve with including minority staff. However, they are divided on the reasons for creating a forum.
Forming a group isn’t the first step. It probably not even a step that is necessary! Based on my conversations with diversity champions, what matters most is the consciousness that everyone has the right skills. To know what inclusion truly means, to manage teams and to overcome unconscious or conscious biases at the workplace. It is not about women or LGBTIQ staff. Even men need to know they are fairly treated.
Having employee networks are a good to have. By not including one community, you are excluding them. Many progressive organizations do not have employee resource groups. Reaching employees organically is the best way to start talking about sensitive subjects like this. Helping staff know more about the laws and the recent changes improves trust in the organization. Knowing that you won’t be persecuted for going about your life can be a relief for most. The goal should be to create a safe and welcoming environment and not overtly focusing on policies. The focus must be on dissuading unforeseen hostility and homophobia. Employees will always have to hide and not comfortable if the environment is not safe. Therefore, building an inclusive workplace is the primary business case. Not tackling it head-on leads to a whole lot of issues.
Having a culture that is inclusive means having allies who can support when needed. The environment for inclusion needs to take place across organizational systems and practices. For example, some organizations have done away with asking the gender of the candidate or giving candidates the option to write it down. To avoid biases, it is helpful to conduct blind hiring where you do not ask for details at the time of screening and only at the time of on boarding.
Everyone needs to be fairly treated and contribute to the organization. There can’t be ‘hidden discrimination’. Policies must cover equal opportunity and sexual harassment. Communication plays a large role in raising awareness. Removing barriers for the community will allow them to come into the fold.
What are your thoughts? Do share them here.
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