Even with all of its undeniable chaos, 2020 has managed to teach us a lot about the things we need to do to build a more inclusive 2021. There’s a lot that we can do to ensure we create a more inclusive and equitable workplace that feels welcoming and safe to everyone . Places where every employee has what’s needed for them to simply focus on thriving professionally.

Equity vs. Equality

First of all, it’s important for us to make a distinction between the two. Equality is about achieving a balance and providing resources to everyone. Equity, however, acknowledges a fair division of resources taking into account specific allocation factors, like unique demographic needs. Not all members of your team will have the exact same needs and being able to recognize this can be crucial in empowering those who most need it within your ranks. The image you see below clearly exemplify that giving the same resources to everyone (in this case a box to stand on) does not produce the same results for all concerned. We face a similar situation in our workplaces where some people are starting off from a place of more privilege than others. The idea is for every person to have the resources, tools and support they need to reach equity before we can focus on equality. (Which in this case would mean that from that point on, everyone receives equal treatment.)

 

Photo Credit: The Second Line Education Blog
Photo Credit: The Second Line Education Blog

Is More Diverse the Same as More Inclusive?

It’s not. A company can be an incredibly diverse space where many employees still feel like their opinions, beliefs and personal needs aren’t being taken into account. Diversity is obviously fantastic and very necessary, but inclusivity and equity are the two key ingredients when it comes to building a better and more successful workplace. One where everyone can feel supported and valued enough to confidently bring their skills to the table.
True, resolutions can be a tricky thing. They require a true commitment to do the work and make the changes you put on your list. We already know that diversity creates endless creative possibilities, but inclusivity and equity will help everyone in your business collaborate and grow together. With that in mind, we give you five resolutions to build a more inclusive and equitable 2021.

Everyone feels included when you have a culture of inclusion and equity- Photo Credit- Greg Rosenke-Unsplash
Everyone feels included when you have a culture of inclusion and equity- Photo Credit- Greg Rosenke-Unsplash

Five Resolutions to Build a More Inclusive and Equitable Workplace in 2021

1Resolve to Take Action

If you still haven’t started thinking about what you can do to build a more inclusive and equitable workplace in 2021, this is the right time to start. Educating yourself and your company’s leaders about the importance of an inclusive work environment is a good place to begin. Make sure there’s a safe space for anyone to ask difficult questions and that nobody will feel offended when hearing them. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable enough to take the lead while helping those who might need adjusting to the unfamiliar. Lead by example, let others see you’re making an effort too.

2Resolve to Make Inclusivity One of Your Company’s Greatest Values

You’ll have to confirm that everyone knows the importance of inclusive culture within the company’s values. Educate your team and nurture a sense of allyship among them. Remind them of the significance of things like using inclusive language in conversations. Especially with employees you don’t know that well. “Partner”, for example, is a good alternative to the more gendered “husband” and “wife”. Normalize sharing pronouns among employees, both while introducing yourself and on your email signature and social media. Your goal here is to build the kind of trust and comfort that will inspire a real, honest dialogue and growth.

3Resolve to Ensure All Voices Will Be Heard and Considered
We need to listen to earn people’s trust, tough. Among many other things, this pandemic has taught us a lot about what happened (or didn’t) in our meeting rooms. Many have learned that what some of their introvert colleagues needed to shine at work, was the chance to talk. Social anxiety can be paralyzing but virtual meetings seem to have created a safe space for many employees. Free of small talk and crowded meeting rooms. Now that we know this, try to avoid letting these voices be drowned and make room for them in meetings. Create opportunities for those who are less likely to share their views and celebrate everyone’s achievements. Particularly, when it comes to women’s voices. Consider specific needs and how addressing might boost morale. These are also good opportunities to reinforce respectful dialogue and inclusive language among all employees. Did anyone get overlooked? Was anyone talked over? Is everyone using the right pronouns? Does it feel like someone could benefit from a little one-on-one?

Ask questions to find out what others are experiencing. Staying curious is key to creating a welcoming culture- Photo Credit- Jon Tyson-Unsplash
Ask questions to find out what others are experiencing. Staying curious is key to creating a welcoming culture- Photo Credit- Jon Tyson-Unsplash

4Resolve to Build Safe Spaces for Important Conversations

Listening to your employees will make it easier for you to know what their specific needs are. It will also help to make them feel seen as individuals. It will contribute to building their confidence to bring up their concerns and needs. You can start by recognizing differences within your staff and making sure they’re all being celebrated. An inclusive workplace is very different from a homogenous one. What you want is for everyone to feel like your business is a place where they can prosper being who they are. This means you’ll have to pay attention, educate yourself and learn how to have important conversations on topics around unconscious biases as they relate to race, gender, LGBTQ rights, disabilities, social issues and so on. Being able to talk about these things will make it easier to avoid a toxic culture within your business, creating a happier work environment and reducing anxiety and depression. Make sure all voices are amplified and supported.

Build more inclusive and equitable workplaces- Photo Credit Christina Wocin-Unsplash
Build more inclusive and equitable workplaces- Photo Credit Christina Wocin-Unsplash

5Resolve to Create Initiatives That Focus on a More Inclusive 2021

There are some initiatives you can create that will speak for themselves throughout the year. First of all, you can revise your holiday calendar and verify that all your employees are being included and their beliefs are being represented at large. Try to ensure that you take into consideration religious beliefs and other personal needs. Events that focus on inclusivity, such as guest speakers, activities, special movie nights and themed (virtual, for now) mixers can help people get to know each other in a more relaxed environment and embrace the diversity around them. Make everyone feel like they’re part of the same team. And if you’re ready to explore our powerful Allyship Circles program, get in touch with us.

What other ways can you make sure you’re building a more inclusive and equitable workplace in 2021? What are some of your personal work-place resolutions?

Aline Cerdan Verástegui

Aline Cerdan Verástegui

Mexico City-born freelance writer, translator, ghostwriter, editor and Red Shoe Movement contributor with a love of live music and graphic novels. Has collaborated with Yahoo!, Blouin Artinfo, Yahoo! en Español, Savvy Heels, Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) among others.

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