Look around your business. Scan the faces of the people that work within your walls. Think about vendors that you support or come in contact with daily. Do they all look alike, sound alike, or have the same preferences? If you’ve watched or even joined recent protests against racism, hopefully it’s pushed you to re-evaluate your company’s makeup. Most likely, we’ve all discovered places where we can do better.
A diverse company is made up of different ethnicities, genders, ages and sexual orientation. The result is a group with differing ideas, perspectives and ways to accomplish results. Over the years, I’ve reaped the personal and professional benefits of employing people from various backgrounds. It gives your company a competitive edge, increases innovation and ultimately ensures success. Diversity and inclusiveness shouldn’t be viewed as a trend, but a top priority and a foundation of business. Here are five ways to create a workplace for everyone.
Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Mistakes in the workplace, from improper comments to actions, often stem from a lack of knowledge and understanding. While every company must enforce tough policies against discrimination and inequality, education is also critical. A training component focused on diversity and inclusion can offer employees the understanding of fair practices and highlight appropriate behavior in the workplace. I would also suggest creating an inclusion committee comprised of employees of different ethnicities, gender, ages, disabilities and lifestyles. You want this group to be organic and authentic, so they can help you mold and craft genuine initiatives around equality and inclusion. Depending on your situation, outside help may be necessary to assess company culture and create a solid foundation of inclusiveness. One thing to note, you don’t want people to be afraid to come to work for fear that they may say or do the wrong thing. Through regular training, you can help instill understanding and thoughtfulness.
Don’t be afraid to talk about tough subjects. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Employee surveys are particularly important tools to gauging your company’s current climate. Verbal or written surveys that ask employees about their in-office experiences and opinions on what the company could do better offers helpful insight. It’s an easy way for employees to voice concerns, especially if done frequently and even anonymously. Also, a strong HR department that values fair and inclusive hiring practices; makes employees feel comfortable to report an incident; and that swiftly addresses issues, is key. An open-door policy keeps communication flowing.
As a business leader, promote a company culture that’s built on compassion and understanding. At our company, we do a monthly, company-wide TV series where employees are interviewed and encouraged to share their personal stories, accomplishments and struggles. This has included an employee who is currently undergoing a transgender surgery and wanted to share their experience with co-workers. We’ve found it helps workers understand different points of view and humanizes issues that are not often talked about. For us, it even comes down to tattoos. While some workplaces ask employees to cover them up, we allow employees to express themselves openly without ramifications. That acceptance spreads quickly in creating an inclusive environment.
That old adage “Actions speak louder than words” has taken on new meaning. It’s not OK to stay quiet anymore. Employees expect you to have conviction and to take a firm stance on inclusion and diversity. While vocalizing your beliefs internally and externally is important, it goes further than making a statement on social media or your website. Taking a stand means being proactive, and immediately terminating staff members who express intolerant behavior. It could also mean cutting ties with vendors or suppliers who aren’t inclusive or are void of a diverse workforce. It’s important to act before you’re asked; it should be an immediate response.
Make it a point to celebrate your differences. Maybe it’s as simple as throwing a party where everyone is encouraged to bring a dish that celebrates their heritage, or a happy hour where everyone comes together. Create intentional team-building exercises and activities where employees step out of their regular roles and perform other workers’ jobs, or even promote cross-job training. These exercises showcase how teams can work together no matter their background. Also, participate in reverse mentorship throughout the company. Even the highest in the chain can benefit and learn from someone in another position.
There will always be more to do but being bold in your actions and amplifying the voices of everyone in the workplace is a step in the right direction.
To learn more about Brett Beveridge, his company, T-ROC Global, his awards, speaking opportunities and upcoming ForbesBooks launch, visit www.brettbeveridge.com.
The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global) is home to four sales solutions companies that enable clients to fulfill all of their sales performance needs. The companies are: The Retail Outsource (TRO), Mobile Insight (MI), The Consumer Insight (TCI), and SYMBITS.
Brett Beveridge is the founder and chief executive officer for The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global). Beveridge is a serial entrepreneur who builds businesses from the ground up. Since founding T-ROC Global, the company has evolved to become a leader in the wireless, electronics, software and retail industries.
Reference: South Florida Business Journal