“We’ve seen real challenges in companies that are satisfied to be hitting their diversity quotas. But, when these people join, they don’t feel part of the organisation.”
Two problems are at play:
- First, organisations that want to do the right thing but possess insufficient inclusion experience.
- And second, organisations that want to be seen to be doing the right thing but have little interest in making genuine progress. This tokenism does very little for marginalised groups, and many people are fed up:
If your organisation is in this group, it’s time to reassess your priorities. If it’s in the first, here’s what you can do to redress inclusion issues…
Commit resources to inclusivity
Remember that the most mature D&I strategies at the best companies actively prioritise inclusion. Diverse quotas and representation are a good start, but you need to keep pressing for greater inclusivity with ongoing investment.
Remember the long-term
Fostering an inclusive culture will pay dividends to your operation down the line. Swathes of data show that diversity leads to better decision-making and outcomes. Add inclusivity — an environment where people of colour, women, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, and mothers can progress to the most senior roles — and the results will be even more impressive.
No longer is the word ‘intersectional’ the preserve of social media campaigners and academics. Having gone fully mainstream, it should serve as a constant reminder that discrimination comes in many forms — and that employees that fall into more than one ‘category’ of diversity may face more insidious and severe forms of prejudice.
Hold better, inclusive meetings
Especially when working remotely, meetings can be the only time when colleagues interact as a group. In them, inclusion is always either centred or sidelined.
Avoid the latter by being aware of how you speak, giving credit generously, avoiding speaking over others, promoting empathic and apolitical debate, and being considerate of other’s sensitivities. It’s about inclusive communication that fosters productive collaboration.
Implement new systems
Around 50% of complaints raised about discrimination lead to retaliation against the victim. This depressing figure won’t surprise any woman who has spoken out against sexual harassment — in the workplace or elsewhere. It speaks to how organisations need to have better systems in place, whether that be harassment prevention or unconscious bias training. Leaders must then realise that complaints are not indicators of failure but opportunities for improvement.
But what we need to avoid more than anything is a return to the attitudes of yesteryear. The landmark government inequality report recommended the scrapping of unconscious bias training is a depressing example of a big backwards step.
For more Juggle insight on supporting people, take a look at this recent piece on supporting a remote team.