“Where are my people?”
It’s a question we often find ourselves asking when we step into a space where we stand out.
The only person above 50 in the room.
The only person of color.
The only woman seated at the round table.
The only LGBTQ+ colleague.
The only immigrant in the organization.
The only neuro-divergent person on a team.
More people than we think feel like they don’t belong at work and it’s our responsibility to change it.
While the importance of DEI has gained widespread recognition in the past few years, we still have a ton of work to do to foster a truly inclusive and equitable environment at work.
This is what my conversation today revolves around. My guest is Minda Harts, the author of three best-selling books and a global experts on all things DEI.
Tune into this episode of the CultureLab podcast where we delve into actionable measures that organizations can implement to cultivate diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Invisibility: Often the challenges of women of color and other under-represented groups are facing are not immediately evident to others. Our biases stand in our way but if we are willing to listen, we can get better.
Equity is not a threat: When we use the word “equity”, we’re not talking about taking anything away from anybody who’s worked hard, who has their seat at the table, who’s in power today – we’re simply talking about what it could look like if we expanded the table.
Acknowledgement is powerful: Witnessing a behaviour that is driven by bias or makes one feel uncomfortable calls for action. Something as small as approaching someone after the fact and acknowledging that what happened was not cool can be powerful.
Holding people accountable, even when they didn’t mean any harm: People do and say things that destroy inclusion and, often, no one addresses it head on. Holding others accountable can start with asking ourselves, “How would I want someone to show up for the people I love if they were in that same situation” This crucial question fosters accountability.
Trust in the workplace: Trust at work relies on the ability to strengthen relationships at work. Trust is often strained at work because we obsess about results and the human factor gets overlooked.
Being an ally: Trust is built through our actions and advocacy for those who need it. Managers and allies should be more aware of the experiences of their team members, especially those facing unique challenges, and develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence to understand the impact of their actions and comments.
The power of an apology: People rarely say: “I’m sorry I failed you in that moment” but we all need to start saying it more often, irrespective of our role.
Acknowledging the elephant in the room is crucial to working towards equity in the workplace and ensuring that marginalized groups, especially women, have a seat at the table.
Self-advocacy: Under-represented individuals need to find a way to articulate their value at work. If you are reluctant to speak up for yourself, you are complicit.
Being open: We need to communicate our needs and plans and keep the dialogue open before assuming that it might be a problem.
More advice for members of under-represented communities in the workplace:
- Recognize your power and advocate for yourself, overcoming fears of rocking the boat or feeling isolated.
- Using your voice creates space for others and contributes to a supportive ecosystem for women in the workplace, not just you.
- Don’t be ambivalent about your career: Don’t lean out now that you’ve worked too hard to leave your career in the hands of somebody else.
- Leverage your network: Success is not a solo sport. It’s not easy to get to the top by yourself. This is why it’s important to cultivate relationships.
- Don’t suffer in silence: There are people who had similar experiences but now they’ve overcome it. These people can offer you some advice or give you some tools. We want to try to do everything ourselves, or suffer in silence but realizing that we don’t have to carry everything alone is powerful. There are people who want to support us out there.
- Restore humanity: Every conversation around DEI is about restoring humanity at work, and how to make the workplace better for those coming behind us.
“We all have have biases. And so I think that hearing conversations like this remind us to say: “Oh, you know what, I might not have meant to do that. But now that I’m aware of it, how can I be better without going back to “normal”? I think that helps make the workplace work for everybody.””
Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.