5 Steps to Create a Genuinely Inclusive, Representative and Equitable Society
Current events have raised awareness towards diversity and inclusion. As I reflect upon what looks like a nice gesture to gain a pat on the back, versus taking actual ownership to enact change, here are some bold actions to make a change, now:
1. Pledge a solution. Whilst advocating for diversity and inclusion publicly is a start, just posting a black post on Instagram one day and going back to business-as-usual the next day won’t change anything. Demonstrate your actual commitment to ethnic minorities by changing your practices. Go out and support the minority groups you pledge to support. Actively seek out businesses to partner with. Simply attending unconscious bias training is not enough. We all have unconscious biases. It’s a part of life. But how are we actually acting upon this knowledge, whether it’s unconscious bias, microaggressions or systemic bias? Each individual needs to digest, take ownership of, then speak out about changing any structural inequalities they see at work.
2. Recognize privilege. Depending on where, how and with whom we were raised, we all have different versions of privilege. Take time to listen to colleagues, ask questions, compare how your lives outside work differ. Only with active communication can privilege be understood and addressed.
3. See something. Say something. Allow your employees to speak up. Do your employees have the freedom to speak up and out about discrimination? About letting it be known how a certain comment or action came across? Simply put, your employees should be able to say something if they see something, in order to change something.
4. Overhaul your hiring practices. Ask who is making your hiring decisions? Are you marketing to attract diverse talent? How are you removing selection bias? You can start by removing names, education dates and personal circumstance statements from resumes. Then do a diversity audit. Benchmark your progress. Report internally on pay differences between different ethnic groups, as is starting to happen with gender. Similarly, don’t ignore intersectionality. The same efforts made to promote equality based on one “difference” or “uniqueness” should be applied to others. So don’t allow race issues to be compounded by class, gender and age.
5. Have cultural resources openly available to employees. This can encourage a consciously supportive culture for everyone. Be an advocate for mental health. Research shows that sexism, racism and social class and income affects mental health. So create a supportive work environment to have open and honest conversations. You’d be surprised how sharing experiences can really open up your work community.
Ask yourselves and your colleagues, what are you going to do to enact real change? Be part of the solution.
Say something if you see something, in order to change something!
Written by Rita Kakati-Shah, Founder and CEO, Uma