HR, to go into those meetings because you never know what
you’re going to be asked.”
The company used to hold a separate holiday party for its
production team to accommodate their nontraditional work
hours. However, a response to an employee survey pointed
out that the practice seemed to silo that department from the
rest of the organization. Although only one person expressed
this concern, the HR department thought the point had merit
and now holds one celebration for everyone.
“We’ve created a very close-knit group of people who treat
one another like family,” Bak says. “I think that’s incredibly
powerful, especially when you look at everything happening
in the world.”
HOLD MORE-EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
An employee’s daily experiences with co-workers are more
telling about a workplace’s inclusiveness than anything else.
“Determine the moments of truth in the workplace where
any individual can impact diversity and inclusion,” says
Danny Guillory, head of global diversity and inclusion
at San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk, a global software
company. “What is most impactful is not what the CEO
says, not what I say, but the experiences I have with the
fve or six people I work with every day. What are the key
moments almost every employee touches where they can
have an impact?”
Meetings are a prime example, says Guillory, who ofers
the following ideas for fostering an environment where
contributions from everyone are encouraged:
ā ā Distribute meeting materials in advance and share ques-
tions to be discussed. This is helpful for workers for whom
English is a second language and for introverted employ-
ees who function better when they are given time to pro-
cess information before reacting to it.
ā ā Reach out to teleworkers. Make sure you have the right
technology for virtual meeting participants to have a
meaningful experience. Welcome them to the meeting,
ask them questions and pause to be sure they are given
the opportunity to take part in the conversation.
ā ā Rotate meeting times if you have remote workers in dif-
ferent time zones.
ā ā Give credit where it’s due. When someone is recognized
for an idea that someone else put forward earlier in the
meeting, point out who shared the idea originally.
ā ā Be conscious of your communication style. Don’t assume
you know more than others by explaining concepts they
may already understand—a behavior sometimes referred
to as “mansplaining” when done by men to women.
ā ā Promote active debate and be courteous. If one colleague
interrupts another, call attention to it to underscore the
importance of letting everyone be heard.
Creating an inclusive mindset is not a linear process, Guillory says. It will take time and a consistent efort. “There will
be stops and starts” along the way, he says.
“Cultivating inclusion is an evolving process with con-
stantly moving targets. You’re never done,”
Thomas points out. “A company’s goals and
tactics must evolve along with the needs of
current and potential talent.”
COMMUNICATE GOALS AND
Establish and clearly communicate specifc, measurable and time-bound goals
as you would with any other strategic
aim. At one organization where Thomas
worked, the employer took great care to
quantify engagement within its BRGs.
After 11 months of “high-touch management” from Thomas’ team, BRG members
reported double-digit increases across 12
measures of engagement.
“Every company should frst benchmark
their culture before they begin investing
in it,” Thomas says. She recommends the
ā ā Conduct a full audit of your people pro-
cesses—from recruiting and hiring to
developing and retaining employees.
Couple the data with engagement and
other workforce survey data to gain a
full measure of your climate.
ā ā Identify any shortcomings and measur-
able discrepancies around inclusiveness
in your organization.
ā ā Instill rigor into inclusion strategies
with data-driven plans, and measure
ā ā Establish a clear business case for how
the company will beneft by having a
more inclusive culture by asking:
V What are our inclusion goals?
V What are the reasons for those goals?
V How do we quantify inclusion?
V How will inclusion impact our mission,
brand or bottom line?
“When you can answer these questions,”
Thomas says, “you’re speaking the language
of your stakeholders, legitimizing the business of inclusion and making inclusion a
‘verb’ versus an ideal.”
Kathy Gurchiek is an associate editor on
SHRM’s online news team.
This article relates to Global and Cultural
Effectiveness, one of the nine competencies on
which SHRM has based its certification. To learn
more, visit www.shrmcertification.org.