During a recent webinar on creating a more inclusive work culture, this question kept coming up:
We are just starting this work and it feels overwhelming. What should we do first?
Whether you’re a company of 20 or 20,000 people, everything starts with a conversation.
How far you go is based on the commitment of your leaders and your employees’ willingness to stay in the conversation even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable.
On your journey, your most valuable assets are curiosity and courage.
That’s because you will surface issues that you won’t know how to address.
It’s a scary but important part of the journey because that’s when discovery happens.
Our cultural assessment work started at the request of our leaders by asking a few focus groups what their work experience was like and what they wished they could change about it.
Those conversations prompted a handful of our leaders to attend a White Men as Full Diversity Partners learning lab. When they got back, they talked about their experience, and that encouraged others to go.
Nine years later, we were a Catalyst Award winner, honored for innovative organizational approaches that address the recruitment, development and advancement of women.
Sometimes (most of the time) this work is undefined, and it’s different for everyone.
In my work with our company and others striving to become more inclusive, I’ve regularly encountered assumptions that simply are not true. To start your journey, you do not need to:
This work isn’t easy, and although there are opportunities to change hearts and minds, that is not always the case, nor even the goal.
Our assumptions, attitudes and experiences can make it hard to talk about our differences. Often we face resistance and sometimes even fear.
Rather than change perceptions, courageous conversations makes us more aware of another person’s perspective, how our own perspective is shaping our behavior, and how we can start doing things differently.
If you’re ready for courageous conversations, this guide will help: Engaging in Conversations About Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Workplace.
If you’re just beginning your journey (or even if you’ve been doing this work for a while), this is an excellent resource. There are two pivotal action items in this guide that we incorporate in our work:
I know we’ll keep discovering, evolving and making progress because our organization will stay in this conversation.
What are your challenges? Are you ready for the conversation? Share your journey with me.