How do you create a workplace with unique solutions to unconventional problems? How do you strengthen your problem-solving skills to take a smarter approach to new challenges? How do you think outside the box?
One of the best approaches by far is workplace safety inclusion.
Of course, saying that you need an inclusive workplace and actually taking steps to create one are two different things. And for many workplaces, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are three steps you can take to foster inclusion in your workplace, whatever your workplace looks like.
Educate Yourself About Difference
If your workplace is truly dedicated to workplace inclusion, your first step is to educate yourself about differences. That does not mean placing the burden of understanding on the person who is already burdened by feeling misunderstood.
How we should learn about cultural differences is a much-debated question. The best place to start is an earnest effort. Do your own research on different cultural experiences through high-quality books, articles, podcasts, and more. Pay careful attention to the source to ensure it’s coming from a trusted source and the voice of someone from that background rather than an outsider.
Move Beyond Sensitivity Training
We’re all familiar with sensitivity training, one of HR’s favorite efforts to cultivate employee awareness. However, if we truly want to foster workplace inclusion, it’s time to go beyond sensitivity training.
To be clear, this is not to say we’re leaving sensitivity training behind. It’s an important part of the solution. The problem is when employers approach sensitivity training as a silver bullet to solve all their inclusion problems.
Instead of using sensitivity training as a time-honored crutch, integrate it into proactive inclusion measures that are part of a wider discussion. It should also be a chance to discuss real issues, not just a routine rubber stamp. Look at Starbucks, which closed all 8,000 U.S. locations for a day to address racial bias after the arrest of two African American men who tried to use a restroom in Philadelphia.
Listen to Employees (Without Defensiveness)
Finally, and most importantly, listen to employees, and listen without defensiveness.
For most of us, listening without getting defensive is a hard skill to master. We have a natural instinct to defend ourselves if we feel we’re under attack. The problem is that defensiveness when inclusion issues are brought up is a barrier to creating real inclusion.
Listening, really listening, is an opportunity to learn. We say all the time in safety that your workers are your best resource, and that’s especially true of workplace inclusion. Listen when employees speak up, take what they say to heart, and most importantly, follow through on what they suggest.
Supporting Workplace Inclusion, One Day at a Time
At the end of the day, workplace inclusion isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a smarter approach to safety. If you have diverse ideas, you’ll take creative approaches to challenges, and that could save lives down the line.