You’re reading an excerpt from a training we hosted with our Inspiring HR clients. Monthly webinars on the most pressing topics facing small business leaders is just one of the perks of being an Inspiring HR client. Contact us to learn more about our solutions today!
To say that there have been some societal and cultural shifts in the workplace is an understatement. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI for short) has risen to become an ongoing and vital conversation in the workplace. I know our team continues to do training to help our clients navigate these changes and to help build a more inclusive workplace.
In fact, most medium- to large-size companies have DEI officers to help those companies navigate these waters.
But as a small business leader (who likely doesn’t have a DEI officer), you’re probably wondering: how do I make incremental changes to foster a better, more inclusive place to work?
Rather than give you a textbook or inundate you with complex “HR legalese,” I thought I’d share a few basic practices to help you keep improving your culture.
These practices are by no means the complete narrative on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. But I promise: they will help you build your road map.
Let’s get started with a few important definitions that I believe we all can agree on. These definitions will serve as the foundation for how you can create a more diverse and unified small business work culture.
MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE KEY DEFINITIONS
Respect: having a high regard for someone.
Everyone wants to feel respected. It’s a basic human desire. We can all agree that we want to foster respect in our companies and feel we have high regard for our colleagues.
Reasonable Person: average care, skill, and judgment in conduct.
Everyone wants to be perceived as being reasonable … and everyone wants to work with team members who are also reasonable and fair-minded. We’re not looking for superheroes. We’re looking for people who can provide “average” care, skill, and judgment in conduct. That’s the starting point for a good employee.
Judgment: making good decisions about what should be done.
Everyone wants to have sound judgment and work with people who also model good judgment skills. Agreed?
Intent: resolved to get it done.
A common HR challenge is addressing employees who’s feelings have been hurt by another team member’s words or actions. But to hold negative feelings and even grudges after addressing the transgression doesn’t do anybody any good. That’s why I included the definition for intent here: to be resolved to get something done. We need to address the issue and move on. It’s the only way we can move forward together.
So, who do you want on your team? Someone who embodies these definitions? Or someone who doesn’t?
Creating a more diverse and more inclusive work culture requires us to all agree on certain definitions and principles. These definitions are a strong foundation for helping you to keep improving your culture.
UNIFYING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WORK CULTURE
Because Inspiring HR focuses on small businesses with 50 employees or less, we find ways to help our clients achieve their goals with the resources they have available.
And what you have available to build a more diverse and unified culture is your Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and your Company Values.
YOUR VISION, MISSION AND VALUES ARE THE KEY TO A MORE INCLUSIVE CULTURE
Does your Vision Statement unify your whole team with a shared purpose?
Your Vision Statement should be big enough so that everyone in your company feels like they can contribute to a greater and more powerful outcome. If your Vision Statement is too small, then your ability to foster a more inclusive company is limited.
Does your Mission Statement tell your team where your company is going—and is that mission thrilling?
If you want to foster and encourage a more diverse and inclusive workforce, your Mission Statement should be laser-focused and help to attract great people who are unified in their desire to make your mission a reality.
Do your Company Values reinforce the kind of incredible people you want in your company?
Too many small businesses bury their Company Values in the handbook and only refer to them in new employee onboarding. That’s a wasted opportunity. Your Values set the tone for who is a good fit for your company, and how you want your employees to show up everyday. Your Values are also teaching tools and positive reminders of the kind of culture you want your company to embody. We tell our clients to plaster the Values on every wall and train on them consistently.
YOUR INCLUSIVE RALLYING CRY
In my opinion, there is no way you can create a more inclusive and equitable culture until you embrace the rallying cry and attitude that “We’re All In This Together.”
That rallying cry is the starting point for all meaningful and positive change in your workplace and culture.
You may agree with me in principle on this rallying cry, but deep down inside: do you really feel it?
I ask because I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of small business owners and entrepreneurs in my career. I’m an entrepreneur myself, having spent the early years of Inspiring HR doing virtually everything myself.
The typical entrepreneur is the one who thought of the business idea, put himself or herself out there and took the risk, and put in all the sweat equity. So it might be hard for you to relate to employees who didn’t sacrifice as you did for your company.
My encouragement to you is to look past all that you’ve done to get your company to where it is today, and look at the horizon: you have employees who are here to make your business better. There is strength in numbers: but only to the extent that you are willing and able to build a company bigger—and even better—with diversion, inclusion and equity.
PLAY THE INFINITE GAME
If you know me, you know I like to quote Simon Sinek, and his book, “The Infinite Game,” made a profound impact on how I approached my business.
We’re here to build something better than we could ever have possibly imagined. But to do that great work requires a unified, diverse and inclusive team.
There is no finish line for greatness. That’s why our work is an infinite game. It never ends. That might sound overwhelming. But here’s the thing: take one step at a time. Every day. Keep improving incrementally.
Your path to creating a more inclusive culture may be a winding road. People are fluid. Business challenges are fluid. Don’t give up. It’s worth the effort.
And when you start to feel the complexity of creating a more diverse and equitable workforce, remember the basics:
• The definitions we can all agree on that make up a unified team
• The Vision, Mission and Values that are the tapestry that align diverse talent under a shared goal
• The rallying cry that “We are all in this together.”
I hope you found this article helpful and I hope you find your footing as you address the important changes in society and culture in your workplace. As always, we are here to help.