Fear is powerful.
We don’t often give consideration to how fear plays such a big role in the workplace. How fear can be a motivator in times of growth, what’s holding us back to take a leap or even what holds us together when things are going wrong. As humans, fear is fundamental to our survival and a natural part of our lives. But fear isn’t always healthy, especially at work. Often it can create biases and stop us from creating inclusive work environments, said our guest this week Joanne Lockwood, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant at SEE Change Happen.
Despite how pervasive conversations about diversity are, Joanne said that many companies aren’t acting for one reason:
“They’re scared of getting it wrong.”
As a result, leaders and employees fall to the “easy path” and stick with the status quo. Or they quite simply never think of acting and don’t.
“There are also perception issues,” said Joanne. She shared a series of questions with us that she uses to help companies begin to see biases in their workplace.
Would you hire me?
Where would I sit? What department would I work in?
Would you let me, as a trans woman, go out and close the big deal?
Would your customers be ok?
That’s the moment. When these questions click with talent leaders, they begin to address their own biases.
Ultimately, the key is recognising you have biases.
Then, you can evolve. Joanne recommends first seeking out employees with a growth mindset. This growth mindset prepares them to evolve and open their minds to new ideas which is critical for building an inclusive company. You can’t just hire someone who’s trans into a biased organisation then assume they will feel welcome.
Next, build an inclusive process. That means we have to look outside traditional experiences and consider the life events of others, like the trans community. Convey that message on our careers sites and in candidate interactions.
“Now we’re looking even more critically. What’s happening at reception? What do you say on your site? Is there an employee network? Is there buy in from the top down?”
Joanne offered a final piece of advice anyone can use. “You don’t need to caption introductions with “You’ll love Joanne, she’s trans and she’s great.”” By doing that, you’re creating a space to pre-judge people. “Don’t make assumptions about how other people will perceive someone. You’re just showing your own insecurities.,” said Joanne.
The bottom line? You’re already losing diverse candidates if you haven’t built an inclusive culture and telling that story on your careers site is well overdue.