Diversity is a hot topic these days in business. But it’s not enough to be diverse, we must be inclusive. Everyone needs a seat at the table, and it starts with small business.
Not everyone has the same starting line in life. Whether it’s being of the color of their skin, gender, orientation, or financial disparities. Be open to hearing that. And don’t pass up solid candidates who might not have the special training or they aren’t wearing a suit to an interview. It’s not about doing charity work, it’s about not letting societal norms get in the way of being an inclusive company.
Having the Conversations
Business owners must build trust with their employees. A great way to do it is to have the hard conversations. You cannot fix the existing problems within your business if you don’t know what they are. Ask what your employees need from you to be successful, in work and life. Find the spaces that your company can have a positive impact in inclusivity in your community.
Some of the conversations you will have will make you uncomfortable. You may not have experienced certain types of discrimination. Educating yourself is a good way to see how you might have even participated in discrimination. But you can use this to grow your company and pivot from discriminatory practices. This is about moving forward.
Creating a Safe Work Environment
Now what? Now let’s put things in motion. You’ve heard what your employees need from you. Maybe they are abstract ideas at first, but keep working together to put things in play.
Here are some ideas you can implement:
- Make pronouns visible at workspaces, meetings, and interviews.
- Have new hires attend D & I training as part of their onboarding.
- Offer “office hours” so your staff can come speak to you privately.
- Host group inclusivity meetings to start the conversation.
- Find local community outreach programs for you and your team to volunteer at.
- Audit your handbook, mission statement, procedures, and job descriptions for discriminatory language.
- Implement D & I policies.
- Partner with minority run businesses.
- Host training programs (which includes programs outside of inclusivity) to help with further education.
- Offer menstrual products in the bathrooms.
- Remove gendered language from signs and speech.
- Celebrate holidays from different cultures.
- Offer flexible hours.
- Offer mental health days.
- Create a maternity leave program.
- Have office furniture that fits all body shapes.
- Make bathrooms, work areas, entrances, parking handicap accessible.
- Have a fridge for medications.
- Check language that has been used to negatively impact a group of people.
- Continue education and educating after inclusivity stops trending.
- Make sure that your employees know there is always a seat at the table for them.