Ames EDC

Six Ways to Cultivate an Inclusive Environment

Posted on August 21, 2019 at 9:00 AM by Andrea Hammes Dodge

     This fall we will host our second annual Symposium on Building Inclusive Organizations, co-hosted with the City of Ames and Iowa State University. We asked members of our planning committee for advice to share with our business community.

     Here are some tips for employers to cultivate an inclusive environment:

  • Build your resiliency for being wrong – because you will do (and maybe have been doing) harmful things in your position of power; build your capacity for humility – being a leader doesn’t make you all-knowing – you need others to provide perspective that you don’t have or couldn’t possibly have.
  • Give up some power, especially given that as the employer, you have power that ultimately can’t be taken away; create advisory councils and then utilize them in ways that will make change in the organization; take incremental steps, but always move forward in making the environment more inclusive – don’t go back; make clear your motivation to building a more inclusive environment so others can hold you accountable to that commitment; when people hold you accountable to your words, thank them and include them in efforts to realize the goals that have been set around inclusivity; provide resources (money, time, space to make things happen) in the workplace for motivated employees to do work on making the environment more inclusive.
  • Recognize this is an ongoing process and will require ongoing discussion (with more listening than talking) and will likely create discomfort for people. Acknowledge this and praise positive changes as they happen and work toward an environment where individuals feel empowered to share their needs (and more importantly to an environment where leaders create environments without having to ask what’s needed).
  • Look for the ‘easy’ things that may be out there (simple changes to forms, signs in building, etc) which can be done sooner than later.
  • Look at bigger processes (hiring processes, mission statements, core values) in the organization and see if they are aligned with inclusive practices and create a plan to update and implement throughout the organization.
  • Be prepared to respond to people who may not “get” why this is important.

     To learn more practical strategies towards building an inclusive workplace, we invite you to join us at our second annual Symposium on Building Inclusive Organizations event on October 29. Click Here to learn more and register today!

Cover Photo: Beyond Diversity Foundation

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