Helping You Move In The Right Direction

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Employers have a lot of tasks and responsibilities in front of them. One major consider is the level of inclusivity of your workplace. This goes beyond just legal considerations regarding harassment and discrimination. While it is crucial you establish a workplace free of mistreatment of others, you must also strive to make every worker feel at home. 

This is the goal of an inclusive workplace: that all staff is equally respected and that their voices are equally heard. It is up to employers to create an inclusive culture, and ensure this culture is properly maintained. CIO offers some effective strategies to boost workplace inclusivity. 

Express empathy towards your team

Perhaps you do not know exactly what it is like to be left out because of your skin color, ethnicity, or gender. However, virtually all human beings have experienced feelings of rejection at some point. Tap into these feelings and consider the effect they had on you. Now put yourself in the place of your staff, who may feel unwelcome or unwanted at work. Empathy is a key component of successful leadership, and it also allows you to meet workers where they live when it comes to inclusivity. 

Do not rely solely on quotas

Quotas are good for expanding your pool of qualified candidates to include more ethnicities and races. However, they are not the end all, be all of an inclusive workplace. Consider the type of environment a new hire of color is coming into. Is company culture amenable to people from different backgrounds? Are all staff members encouraged to contribute during meetings, or is conversation typically relegated to the same faces? Hiring a diverse staff is only the beginning, so do not waste too much time patting yourself on the back. 

Emphasize the joys of inclusivity

If majority workers feel “attacked” by your inclusivity process, regardless if these feelings have merit, they are likely to push back against it. While you must implement the proper hiring practices and policies to ensure all workers feel at home, you should also allow your staff to get to know each other on a personal level. Schedule lunches and happy hours, so your team can banter and trade stories. Getting over one’s bias or prejudice is sometimes as simple as sitting down and sharing a meal with a person from a different background. 

As an employer in California, you no doubt want to provide whatever elements will help contribute to a productive working environment. That desire is often counterbalanced, however, by the understanding that you can only give to a certain extent when it comes to accommodating employee requests.

The advice given to many people is to understand the accommodation requirements mandated by law. That includes accommodations for your employees who are new mothers just returning to work. One need many may have is needing to express breastmilk during working hours. As this can be a particularly sensitive issue, it behooves you to know what the law requires you to do to assist in this regard, and how you can best meet their needs.

Your legal obligation to new mothers

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, you must provide reasonable break time to new mothers on your staff to allow them to express breast milk. This time should not count against their standard break and/or lunchtimes. In addition, you must provide them with a place where they can comfortably and discreetly see to this (in a place other than your office’s bathroom).

Tips for accommodating nursing mothers at work

You can work with employees needing this accommodation to make the experience work more smoothly for all parties involved. Start by ensuring that they have the location needed to express breast milk in private (perhaps an empty office or conference room) where they can preferably lock the door. Talk with your other employees about rearranging meeting and break schedules in order to maintain productivity while a new mother takes her needed break.

Are you meeting your obligations to promote diversity in the workplace? It can be difficult to know if you do not have a clear idea of what workplace diversity looks like. Essentially, your workplace should reflect the larger world in which your company exists, with all different genders, races, nationalities and ethnicities represented at all levels. 

While defining diversity can be difficult, it may be helpful to understand two different types of diversity: Acquired and inherent. 

Acquired diversity

According to the HR Exchange Network, acquired diversity refers to traits that your current and prospective employees gain through life experience. Examples of acquired diversity include language skills obtained from traveling abroad, communicating with a relative who came to the United States from a foreign country, etc. Acquired diversity also refers to a broader mindset when it comes to approaching cultural differences. 

Inherent diversity

Inherent diversity refers to traits that are present from birth, such as race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Underrepresentation affects many members of groups such as these. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to make an effort toward greater inclusion. 

Note that “gender” in this context does not refer to the sex assigned to an individual at birth. Rather, it refers to one’s gender identity, which may or may not align with assigned sex but is nevertheless an inherent trait. 

Both inherent diversity and acquired diversity are important to make your workplace truly inclusive. There are not only legal and ethical reasons to include more diversity but business reasons as well. Research shows that if you hire employees with at least three acquired and inherent diversity traits apiece, you are more likely to see company growth and increased performance.