Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere– Martin Luther King Jr.
Late in May of 2020, the light of Black Lives Matter shone brightly on the racial injustices that plagued minority workers and people of color. Almost a year later there has been a surge in hate crime attacks against the Asian and Pacific Islander community in America.
All over the country it has been and continues to be imperative that we can’t let up our efforts for inclusion at work.
It all comes back to inclusivity.
The rise in attacks on our Asian colleagues, mentors, and friends reminds us that the work surrounding inclusivity is far from over. We’ve been asked to pick up the rug a little bit more; to again shine the light on the darkest, and most hidden part of our behavior and the culture it creates. Heck yes, it’s uncomfortable. Heck yes, it is deep work. But managers, when we address how well we are doing at being inclusive, we are better managers for it.
Inclusivity starts with diversity.
We like the analogy: diversity is being asked to attend the dance, inclusion is being invited to the dance floor. Look at your team composition. How many team members are black, Asian, women, LGBTQ+? And do you treat everyone with the same respect, humility and integrity?
Building a diverse team requires humanity. When you lead a diverse team, as a manager, it’s a constant evolution in creating a workplace that is safe and inclusive. With this constant evolution, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being able to gather a room of people, and address sensitive and emotional issues and do amazing work together.
How do we take this issue head-on?
A 2017 study by Cone Communications, teaches us that 78% of people want companies to address important social issues. They want companies to act on the issues that affect their very lives and livelihood.
Managers, we know you are balancing operations and the culture. To create a safe environment today, you gotta be ready to address the social reality that is happening outside the walls of your business.
In order to make a safe working environment for your team, address the inequities and make a more inclusive and equitable workplace. Garnering feedback from your team is going to be one of the best ways to do that.
Make it safe to speak up.
In a previous article, we suggest one way to foster inclusivity: host a team or company-wide forum. We suggest this because a forum is a space and time to bring your team together and call questions. “How is everyone feeling about this?” “Are YOU okay?” “How can we, (as a team, as an organization) do better?”
To make sure folks feel safe to answer these questions, foster psychological safety. Because when you foster psychological safety, you create the environment your team needs to in order to participate.
Psychological safety makes inclusivity possible.
Psychological safety really needs to be established in order to facilitate a successful forum (or meeting, or company culture). This is because psychological safety makes it so your team feels OK to show up as their true self. And, it takes a bit of focused work. We recently gave two ways to help establish psychological security in your team: foster group decision-making and establish group norms.
Managers, you can do this! Practice in your meetings. Walk the walk in your phone calls and emails and Zooms. Catch yourself. Are you actively listening? Do you get all of the voices in the room? Are you consistent in action and attitude?
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today. – Chinese proverb
In May of 2020, “Black Lives Matter” was the rallying cry that turned the focus of the country and the workplace on to the ever-present need for equality and inclusion. Today, the Stop Asian Hate movement reminds us of just how much we do need to keep up.
The skills of facilitation, establishing group norms, and active listening are what help foster psychological security within your teams. Psychological security is what gets all the voices in the room.
Everyone needs to feel that they are safe to say what is on their mind without fear of retribution or shame. Every voice needs to be accounted for and heard. Managers, you possess the skills in order to create a diverse team, and to include all voices for GOOD.