Did you take a deep breath? Because I just did.
This is a layered, multifaceted, exciting, and challenging question. It’s good to start by considering the factors that keep us at work. Variables such as retention, employee happiness, and what our new generation of workers need can teach us that what was successful 10 years ago doesn’t measure the same success today. Just as our work is an evolution of processes, so are our teams and the way we build them.
Here are a few ways we can shift our perspective and in turn, promote inclusion at work:
- Don’t let your environment become a museum.
In Adam Grant’s book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Rule the World, Grant writes about how companies should stop considering the term “culture fit.” Instead, we should ask how folks can contribute to the culture at work. Adding people to a team because they have the same ideas, interests, or come from a similar background creates a museum of employees, or, people who generate the same ideals and outcomes. Instead, we should ask what qualities we want in a team member and what skills the team needs to complement our own.
- Words matter!
History has taught us that the way we have spoken with each other has left many out. The way we speak and engage with our clients, teammates, friends, and family all carry their own weight. As our friends at Buffer say, communication is not necessarily about what you say, but rather how you are heard. By starting with our language and getting comfortable with making mistakes, we can recognize our blind spots and begin to create an inclusive community where everyone feels comfortable and has an opportunity to be heard.
- Challenge complacency.
Facilitate an environment that provides space for all of the voices on your team to be heard. If you have a routine stand up, team meeting, or 1:1, try distributing agendas or materials in advance so everyone has time to prepare. Share your failures as much as your successes so that your team can take ownership of their work and ease the fear of making mistakes. Encourage new hires, who have a fresh perspective, to question systems. By encouraging each other to make space for our voices, we can create inclusivity and in turn welcome diverse perspectives.
Inclusion doesn’t just cause good feelings; creating space for inclusion at work creates a sense of belonging. By working together, we can create a space for all people (vendors, colleagues, clients) to feel welcomed, appreciated, and heard.