Inclusivity at work
Like many people and organisations, the Stride team has recently been reflecting on the injustices Black people face, and have faced historically. These challenges extend well beyond the workplace, but our area of expertise is careers, and so today we're going to explore how you can work more inclusively, to be an ally to your colleagues.
It's deeply unfair and frustrating that not everyone is given the same opportunities in life due to systemic racism. However, there are simple ways that everyone - junior, senior, intern or CEO, can make their workplace a more inclusive place where everyone can thrive. Although you may be limited in how much you can change your workplace, the important thing is to consistently challenge yourself and those around you to do better.
Where do I begin?
One place to start is by checking your own behaviours and attitudes in everyday situations. By being mindful of micro-aggressions and micro-affirmations, you can register them when they happen. Ask yourself,
What prompted this behaviour?
Is this related to a bias that I need to unlearn?
How can I make my response to this situation better?
Is this a situation that I need to call out, so it doesn't happen in the future?
An example scenario that's often given is in recruitment - if the staff involved in a hiring process realise they are only recruiting people from one demographic, they may pause to review why that is. Is it the way the job is described or advertised, or are the interviewers are displaying a bias? The staff may choose to make changes about the hiring process or the people involved, and they may flag this to senior staff in HR.
This example may not resonate with you - not everyone gets involved in recruitment! But you can translate this mindset into your daily life in some easy ways.
Hold yourself accountable
You may want to take an unconscious bias test - this will reveal where you have biases that you can work on. We recommend starting with this test from Project Implicit - it accounts for lots of different biases, so if you're concerned about being prejudiced against a particular quality, you can focus on that.
Call out micro-aggressions
Not everyone knows what micro-aggressions are - and the name can make them seem like they're not a big deal.
However, micro-aggressions can take a lot of forms, and being subject to them can be exhausting: that's why it's important to check that you're not committing micro-aggressions yourself, and to call them out in others.
Examples of micro-aggressions can include: Problematic ways of working
• Ignoring someone's contributions
• Excluding someone, or purposefully not keeping them in the loop
• Focusing on perceived negative aspects of someone's work
• Referring to stereotypes
Problematic communication habits
• Not asking how someone is - only talking shop
• Asking how someone is, but not listening or responding to their answer
• Using inappropriate body language (e.g. aggressive, dismissive or intrusive gestures)
• Using inappropriate language or tone of voice (e.g. slurs, patronising or dismissive words)
Remember when calling out micro-aggressions, your company will likely have a policy to follow on inappropriate behaviour such as harassment, racism or bullying. Although having a gentle work with colleagues is usually fine as a starting point, not all companies will encourage a direct approach. Speak to your line manager, or someone further up the chain, if you aren't sure what to do.
Model and promote micro-affirmations
Being intentional about modelling positive behaviours ( micro-affirmations) to the people around you is a key part of checking and unlearning your biases, and will help promote inclusive behaviour in those around you.
Examples of micro-affirmations are:
Affirmative ways of working
• Value the differences in a diverse team - they have been proven to increase creativity!
• Seek our and celebrate your colleagues' achievements, whether big or small, and be fair in dishing out praise
• Acknowledge your colleague's work and ideas, and take action in response
• Ask about someone's career goals, and share opportunities for learning / development
• Make sure your colleagues are kept fully in the loop
• Introduce colleagues to people you think they'd benefit from meeting
Affirmative communication habits
• Ask how your colleagues are, and genuinely listen to their response
• Consciously note the things you have in common with people you meet
• Be an active listener
• Practice using positive, welcoming body language
These are just some small steps to start making a change - there are many more resources and actions you can take.
We recommend checking out this resource list by the Survivors' Network if you're keen to learn more!