It’s more than likely that this is not the only blog about diversity & inclusion you’ve seen in the last few months…
It’s also very likely that you see the two words, ‘diversity and inclusion’, hand-in-hand.
The two terms are naturally linked. One cannot reach the full potential without the other. Diversity is recognising and acknowledging differences and inclusion is valuing those differences.
So, what does this mean for D&I in the workplace?
The CIPD states that “an inclusive workplace has fair policies and practices in place and enables a diverse range of people to work together effectively”. I wholeheartedly agree with this, as policies that support everyone are a key part of building an inclusive workplace.
However, I also believe that policy is but one of the many cogs in the wheel. Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture requires the commitment of everyone in the business, especially employees. Remember, what is diversity without inclusion?
If you’re interested in helping the workplace become a more inclusive environment, here are a few ways in which you as an individual can, and should, contribute:
1. Recognise your privileges to help others
When you are at work, maybe in a meeting, try to notice if you have any privilege and use this to amplify the voices of those who may not. Not by talking for them (big no) but by supporting their ideas and suggestions. Think of it as retweeting or sharing your friend’s latest opinion on your feed. Everyone loves a supportive friend.
2. Connect with someone new
In your team it’s easy to stick to your circle of immediate work colleagues – some may even say “friends” – but remember to sense check. Are you unconsciously choosing to associate with people just like you? If so, reach out to someone you may not usually ‘casually’ speak with and learn more about them.
3. Be an ally
Often, we may have the view that if an issue does not directly impact ourselves, we don’t need to be involved. But such an attitude is a hindrance on progression. Supporting and being an advocate for those under-represented groups, intervening in positive ways when we see a barrier that they face or even mentioning someone who may not be in the room, are all ways you can be an effective ally.
4. Talk about D&I topics openly
Some people find it daunting to talk about certain topics, especially in the workplace, but you know the saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” – well if you don’t talk about it, it will never be solved (‘it’ being the differences you may wish to know more about). At LEWIS our DICE (Diversity, Inclusion, Care and Equality) Team has been championing this by having a weekly debate session on a range of topics. Though, when you feel comfortable talking about D&I topics do bear in mind the next point…
5. Think about your choice of words
This one may be a toughie at first, after all, using non-inclusive language can be an unconscious mishap. To avoid using the wrong terminology, educate yourself so that you are not using offensive terms or assuming how to speak about someone. A great example of this is when referring to someone’s gender, ensure that you have the full knowledge of their preferred pronouns. To mark Trans Day of Visibility (31st March), conversations at LEWIS were conducted in a sensitive manner, with the team offering gentle suggestions on how to mark the occasion and make others aware of our preferred pronouns. Consequently, we have invited our employees to include their pronouns in their email signatures if they feel comfortable to do so.
6. Celebrate differences
Sometimes we like to find ‘something in common’ with one another but why not find out something different – and celebrate it. You might find that discovering these differences can feel much more rewarding. Remember that “everyone is equal, but not the same”. It may not be easy for some to discuss personal topics but having an open safe space to talk about them helps a lot. If you go first, someone else may feel comfortable sharing.
7. Practice what you preach…
I understand that this final point may be ‘easier said than done’, but it’s so important that you are applying what you believe in. Ensure that you are really making an effort on a personal level and if you witness something happen that you believe is discrimination please try your hardest to address it. Things will only improve if we call out the things holding us, as a society, back.
As you can see, the ways in which people can feel included come from the people around us. At LEWIS, we know that our people are the real catalyst and we’re thrilled that many of our employees have joined forces to kick start our DICE Team. Since it’s been set up, the LEWIS DICE Team has ensured that globally we can become more diverse and really push for everyone to feel valued and included.
I’m so very proud of each member who truly believes in, and actively advocates for, equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.
To find out more about LEWIS’ commitment to an inclusive workplace, contact us here.