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June 20, 2023 | 5 min read
How To Foster A Culture Of Inclusion And Belonging In The Workplace

Catherine

Tandym Group recently welcomed motivational speaker and executive coach Monica Guzman to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues in the workplace. While her talk focused on LGBTQIA+ issues, Monica discussed how creating a culture of inclusion and belonging in the workplace for all marginalized employees can improve relationships, enhance productivity, and promote higher levels of engagement and trust. Here are some key takeaways from her talk with us:Acceptance & Inclusion

Self-awareness is key

Self-awareness is key when you want to help marginalized colleagues feel accepted and included in the workplace. To do this, you must also acknowledge your privilege and how that can make your life easier than some of your colleagues’. Privilege can look like:

  • Race
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability status
  • Religion

Even though it can be uncomfortable, understanding and acknowledging your privilege (and recognizing where you may have biases and blind spots) is one of the first steps toward becoming a true ally in the workplace.

Education and support = Allyship

Along with being self-aware, you can be a good ally to your coworkers by educating yourself on issues that impact them. For example, if you have a coworker who is LGBTQIA+, reading up on and understanding issues that might affect them (both in and out of the workplace) can help them feel supported and understood. Additionally, being educated on these types of issues can help you better advocate for and support your colleagues in situations where they don’t feel empowered to speak up.

Help build a culture of listening

Employees from marginalized groups can often feel like their contributions are not taken as seriously as their coworkers’. To promote a sense of inclusion and belonging in the workplace, it’s important for you to not only actively listen to what they have to say, but to also provide a space where they feel like they are respected and listened to. Doing this can look like:

  • Leading by example: If you are in a leadership role at your company, understand that this type of behavior starts with you. By giving space for marginalized employees to speak and contribute, you’re encouraging your direct reports to do the same.
  • Using open channels of communication: Establish various channels through which employees can express their thoughts and concerns. When employees feel heard, they’re more productive and more likely to make a direct impact.
  • Learning from your mistakes: Throughout the course of your career, you may say something that upsets one of your colleagues. Even if what you said was unintentional, don’t get defensive if someone calls you out for your behavior. Instead, understand where they are coming from, and why your comments hurt them. In addition to apologizing, use this as a learning opportunity and ensure you don’t make this type of mistake again.

Treat colleagues the way you would treat your loved ones

Have you ever been upset on behalf of a loved one who was treated poorly in the workplace? If you’ve ever felt this way, keep how you felt in mind as you interact with your own coworkers. While this may seem like a given, you may be surprised how often some of your colleagues feel disrespected in the workplace because of things like their sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. As you interact with your colleagues, be sure you are talking to them with respect, compassion, and care.

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