“Equality” is a word we’ve heard more and more lately, and it shouldn’t just be a buzzword. People have taken to airing grievances, concerns, and examples of inequality on social media over the past few years, and it’s not something in which your company wants to be on the wrong side. But, inequality shouldn’t just be addressed based on fears of lawsuits and public scrutiny – it should be addressed because it’s the right thing to do.
Don’t you want people working at your company who feel included, no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic or label society has placed on their shoulders?
People want to feel seen, heard, and supported.
When it comes to working, the other factors should not be barriers that stand in the way of apt reviews, promotions, and salary increases.
More and more companies have realized as of late that maybe some of the policies they have in place, whether with positive intention or not, have created more inequality than inclusion. However, those companies are taking steps to “right the ship” and address those issues, even if they require some restructuring, and a little time and money.
Many in management may think it’s up to Human Resources or CEOs to make such changes, and there’s not much to be done on an individual level. That thinking could not be more incorrect.
There are things that everyone can do to show the inequality in the workplace, no matter your role, or how high up the ladder you’ve climbed.
Here are our 5 Ways to Strive for Equality in the Workplace.
- Confront Unconscious bias. This is an uncomfortable topic, and one that causes many to bristle reactively. But I’m not biased! I’m fair!, you think to yourself. Well, first off, good on you for making that effort and doing some self reflection. However, unconscious bias is, in many ways, unavoidable, and is a part of being human. Think of it this way: you spent many of your formative years with the same people (your family), and more than likely in a particular community. You developed patterns, norms, and categorizations of “good” and “bad” as you experienced different things in growing up, and not much of that was intentional. Do some self reflection on this – when is the last time you may have said something unfavorable about someone without really knowing their character? It’s difficult, and isn’t just something that can be done once and forgotten about, but it’s a great first step in being honest with yourself and bringing issues to light.
- Speak up about Language. If you hear crass, or hostile language being used by someone – no matter their position – it’s important to speak up. Often people may share opinions, assuming those within earshot may feel the same, but destructive language is something you don’t want to be associated with in the workplace. Make an effort to confront the person (professionally) in how you may find that talk offensive or unfair, but if you think that will only antagonize the situation, escalate it to management or your people operations department. Remember, you’re not responsible if action is taken to reprimand that employee, but taking steps to help enforce healthy boundaries is something that benefits everyone.
- Flexible Schedule for Work/Life Balance. Employees often feel strained between their work and home responsibilities. Allowing for a flexible schedule if your team member requests it is a great way to take some of that pressure off. Employees want to feel productive, but that schedule may vary from person to person, regardless of the reason why. It shouldn’t matter if it’s because of kids, or aging parents – giving them a little room to breathe will help them be more successful, and help push for equality, as they can still produce great results.
- Provide a safe space for issues. Whether you are a direct manager or a member of HR, everyone should have safe space to communicate their issues, or reasons they may feel discriminated against. Not only will you have to ensure that they can trust you, but you have to live up to that. The last thing someone needs is to think their concerns are the source of watercooler whispers. Once the grievances have been shared, follow up with the correct protocols on managing those issues, which makes those employees feel that they matter just as much as everyone else.
- Sensitivity Training. Most companies offer some form of sensitivity training, but if not, it’s time to get on it! However, this can’t just be a 5 minute video you show once a year, and bury it every other day. Evaluate the training being offered for its effectiveness and impact. Make sure everyone participating has a voice to share concerns, or examples, even, if it aligns with the messages being communicated. Sensitivity Training may actually bring some of those unconscious biases we spoke about earlier to the surface, triggering reflection, and change for the better on a personal level.
Striving for Equality in the workplace is a noble feat, but don’t lose hope if change is not immediate, as these things (unfortunately) don’t happen overnight. However, remind yourself that how you react and the things you say have an impact on those around you.
You are the first step to company change, and we’re applauding you all the way!