In the kind of economy that is emerging today, optimal performance requires every person to plug in with energy, ideas and a solid understanding of the company’s goals. To survive and thrive in the future business world, organisations have to become great places to work For All™.
That is why in the month of November, we held an Inspiration session about creating such a Great Place to Work For All™. We started by explaining our perspective on the topic. Installing the For All philosophy means creating a culture that is welcoming to EVERYONE, no matter who they are, what they do, who they love, and what identity they carry. Everybody belongs, brings unique talents, can contribute and reaches their full potential. The principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) have a central place in this philosophy.
Thereafter, we invited Prof. Dr. Smaranda Boros to guide us in a Q&A-session. She is an Associate Professor of Intercultural Management & Organisational Behaviour and the head of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team at Vlerick Business School.
Create a psychological safe workplace
When you want to create an open atmosphere where everybody can share their thoughts, ideas and initiatives without getting backfired, psychological safety comes into play. Are there safe spaces in the organisation where employees can discuss topics they struggle with? This does not mean that only HR is invested. The human and performance sides of the organisations can be intertwined! In Great Workplaces For All™, employees can informally reach out to their team members when they feel the need to.
This initiative will only take off when leaders are engaged and set the right example. They should show their vulnerability and discuss their failures. They are role models and therefore express what the For All company culture is.
A good example to implement this is by adapting your business design and applying informal feedback round. Here leaders can:
- ask openly for a two-way feedback, where everybody can give their honest opinion.
- react in an open and constructive way, so that employees feel safe and will do the same.
- take the feedback into account, follow it up and act on it when possible. Let your employees know that what they say matters.
Golden Circle of Simon Sinek
Focus on the WHY
When leaders want to inspire action while implementing a For All™ culture and strategy, they need to focus on the reason behind it. Tackle resistance by letting your employees understand WHY the change is essential, before communicating HOW and WHAT they want to change. Simon Sinek argues with his ‘golden circle’-theory that often the WHY is be forgotten in organisational change. Start with WHY, the hart of change, and make this a strategic priority. Define what diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging means to your company, why you need it in your business model, how it fits with your mission and what your goal is. Make it a priority and invest time, recourses and money in it!
Discuss the HOW
After the WHY is clear, you can start discussing HOW you will implement the change. This can be, for example, by creating awareness around the topic. You can only act when you become aware of the stereotypes, societal dynamics that live today. Especially, mechanisms like implicit biases , normative thinking and minority stress can cause certain employees to feel left out and stigmatized. Seemingly innocent jokes can have a big impact.
Creating a culture where DEIB is centrally placed is thus important in great places to work For All.
Communicate the WHAT
Lastly, communicate WHAT specific initiatives you are implementing where and when. Keep in mind that changes ask for energy, so let employees see what is in it for them. Give them the autonomy to personalize the change in the space of freedom that they have and let them ultimately internalize the why.