Every year, people worldwide come together in June to celebrate Pride Month, paying tribute to the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 and recognizing LGTBQ+ individuals. With origins locally in New York City, Pride Month is celebrated with month-long parades and rallies that aim to promote and preserve rights for the LGBTQ+ community and commemorate members of the community who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS and hate crimes.
At J Strategies, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is a core value to our company, which is why this month, we are raising our Pride flag to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. As we work among diverse communities, we aim to foster an inclusive work environment because it provides a space to learn. In addition, we respect and support each of our team members’ various backgrounds and ways of life.
Our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is driven by the fact that employees want a work environment where they feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves. According to a recent Deloitte survey, at least 80% of prospective employees say inclusion is an important factor in choosing an employer. Along with, at least 72% agreed that they would leave their job for a more inclusive work experience.
When establishing an inclusive workforce, leaders must recognize that it is not the same as creating a diverse workforce. An inclusive culture aims to eliminate unconscious bias and creates a space for all employees to feel included for who they are and how they identify themselves. For employers seeking a more inclusive work setting, below are steps to create a safe work environment for employees.
Educate Leaders and Managers About Inclusion in the Workplace
Company leaders are integral in creating an inclusive workplace as they are the ones who set the example for employees. At J Strategies, we promote inclusion by holding training sessions with employees, discussing political and societal issues regularly, and learning about our employees’ cultures, lives, and interests outside of the workplace. We recently launched our EXCEED Fellowship, which facilitates entry for BIPOC students and young professionals into the political and professional network.
Regardless of the size of the company, employers can promote a more inclusive workforce and change the organizational culture by:
- Evaluating how inclusive the current work environment is and determining what inclusivity looks like to the employees.
- Offer culture and diversity training to educate employees on unconscious bias awareness, emotional intelligence, and accountability.
- Establish an employee feedback system to evaluate how employees are feeling in the work environment regularly.
- Decide that you are serious about this transformation and add inclusion topics to your company’s list of values.
Rethink Workforce Policies
Establishing an inclusive environment means that employers may have to create new policies and throw out old ones. Company leaders can remodel several policies, including:
- Ensuring all employees are being paid fairly based on their skill level and job title. Race, gender, and sexual orientation should never determine salary.
- Give paid days off to employees celebrating religious or cultural holidays that are not explicitly covered in the official holiday calendar.
- Incorporate a dress code policy that encourages employees to wear clothing that professionally and accurately represents themselves. For example, our employee handbook states that, “J Strategies does not discriminate based upon traditional gender-conforming clothing, natural hairstyles, or clothing that accommodates your physical abilities.”
- Provide a “Diversity and Inclusion” communication channel where employees can share helpful information and encourage open conversations.
Form a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee
A D&I committee acts on behalf of the company to promote, support, and drive inclusion in the workplace. D&I committees serve as a bridge between employers and employees and can be made up of employees themselves. Employee-led D&I councils also provide a more approachable space as complaints or suggestions are not directly made to managers or bosses.
Celebrate Employees’ Cultures and Traditions
Invite employees to share their cultures within your workplace. Celebrate annual observances like Black History Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with meaning by bringing in speakers, planning workshops, or organizing volunteering efforts with non-profits.
The most crucial step in establishing an inclusive workplace is ensuring these actions are built into everyday work life. By following these steps, company leaders will create a work culture where all of their employees will feel more valued and more comfortable expressing themselves and their opinions.
Francisca Cruz is the Director of Alliance Development & Events at J Strategies.