What tips and strategies can I share on how employers can cultivate a workplace that combats racism and inspires diversity and inclusion? I'm glad you asked.
I approach these issues from a behavioral perspective – assuming MOST people are good.
The key to getting the workplace culture you want – is to ACTIVELY reward the behavior you want and redirect the behavior you don’t want – to the behavior you do want and then – positively reward the good behavior.
Most people respond really well to this. Most people want a workplace culture to change. Whether the problem is racism, sexism or just plain old fashioned bullying – most people want to work in a supportive work environment.
Managers and leaders – need to set up systems where positive supportive behavior is noticed and encouraged and rewarded. For example: in meetings, maybe – people who give space for other people to talk – can be acknowledged and thanked for helping to make sure everyone is included ad heard. Rewards don’t have to be monetary, often it is enough – to just thank the person for being a good person.
What should you do if you are in a meeting and someone says something inappropriate? Delta, redirect, positively reinforce. Issue a delta – which is just – stopping and resetting what is going on. No judgement – just – let’s reset. Redirect means – the reset is a restatement of cultural expectations that everyone is included and treated with dignity within the organization. Disagreements are to be professional, not personal. Then let the person who misstepped – correct themselves. Then immediately thank them and give them props for a successful and professional reset.
This should work with MOST employees as most employees mean well – but may have biases and habits that are not appropriate anymore and have to be relearned. But this doesn’t mean it will work with everyone. The reality is – some people – are white supremacists and will not change. Those people – once they surface – have to be fired. There is not way to create a professional workplace where everyone is included when one of your employees (or more) is actively working to counter that ideal.
How will you know? It will be hard at first. Whenever you create cultural change or behavioral change in a group, people will resist it. But if you keep positively reinforcing it and don’t ever allow the “old ways” that were – honestly – rather racist AND sexist – from working – eventually – most people will get on board and start responding positively to the positive reinforcement of the new norms.
Expect some resistance. Change is hard. But here is the key to finding and eliminating people who are actively racist/sexist. Consistency. Most people resist, and then change and embrace what they are positively reinforced for doing. Racists/sexist – will resist, then resist more, then resist more – and eventually will be super overt in their anger and resistance when racism and sexism stops working for them and they are no longer able to control group dynamics by excluding certain people. Those are the people you need to fire.
A lot of times, this is where companies fail. They think the racist/sexist is too important to the success of the organization to let go – and so – they allow it to continue. Racists/sexists are harming your productivity and your organization will be WAY more effective if you eliminate the people preventing your other employees from contributing.
So – positively reward the behavior you want. Delta, redirect then positively reinforce stumbles. Fire anyone who refuses to change.
I do have training on a lot of these topics – from a behavioral perspective.