In our last blog on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), we spoke about the importance of taking action to nurture a more diverse working environment.
It is not enough simply to say warm words, or even to have smart objectives that you can point to as having been achieved. It is also crucial for you to be seen to act on enhancing inclusiveness by your employees.
This is key to creating a culture of comfort where every team member feels welcome, nurtured and motivated. But, how can an employer truly be seen to act, and what steps can be taken to ensure their team members feel comfortable in the workplace?
Here are our top tips to create a culture of comfort in your working environment:
Respond quickly when an issue occurs
No matter where you are on your DEI journey, occurrences can still happen where someone may unwittingly say something inappropriate to another, such as use the wrong pronouns to describe a colleague. Accidents can still happen as people learn to better understand their team members.
In such cases, it is imperative to respond quickly to ensure the employees on the receiving end are supported and to understand what additional training the employees responsible for the incident need to help them conduct themselves differently in the future. This immediate response can demonstrate to all team members your commitment as a business to creating an inclusive environment and ensuring they are comfortable when at work.
Regular training about DEI, and team discussions about the needs of different individuals can also help to minimize the risk of such incidents occurring in the first place.
Learn from co-workers
Don’t be afraid to consult your co-workers and colleagues regularly to understand how they see your business’s DEI performance. Your colleagues will all have their own personal experiences as well as perspectives on your business culture. They may be better placed to see where there are areas for improvement, to identify gaps in your definition of DEI that mean it is under-serving certain team members.
Regular consultations and team meetings can demonstrate to your employees that you value their input, while also giving you the opportunity to listen to and learn from them and their experiences. This ultimately builds trust in your commitment to DEI, helping them to feel more comfortable at work.
Be open to suggestions
No DEI strategy is perfect, and it should be possible to review and update policies regularly in order to achieve goals and create a better working environment for team members.
With this in mind, it is important to always be open to suggestions to improve the strategy, whether they are ideas for new areas of focus, or recommendations for new initiatives to achieve existing goals. Such suggestions can come from anywhere – from colleagues and junior team members, or even from knowledge-sharing at networking events.
When incorporating suggestions into your revised strategy, it is important to acknowledge to team members where they have come from – whether from employer feedback or from insights from other companies. This way, they will know that you are keen to learn and grow, helping to build their confidence in your focus on culture.
Empower employees to talk directly with leadership
Finally, it is important to ensure that employees know that they can come to the senior leadership team (SLT) with suggestions regarding your DEI strategy, or with concerns about the culture. Failure to achieve this ultimately undermines confidence among team members that their wellbeing or opinions matter, potentially undoing all your hard work creating a culture of comfort within your business.
Initiatives, such as regular Town Hall meetings with the leadership team, or a regular surgery for employees to speak to SLT members privately can help establish this direct line of communication. Moreover, it can be a powerful, visible reminder to team members that the SLT values them and cares about their comfort and happiness.
Time to show your team that they are valued
These are just a few ways for you to demonstrate to your team that you are truly committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment.
By showing your employees that you care and are taking steps to enhance DEI within your company team members feel comfortable and safe in the workplace, helping to nurture a culture where everyone feels happy and included.