Building a great company culture means incorporating and valuing many viewpoints. Your newest employees grew up in a world where limited diversity meant stagnation. If you want your company to grow and build a diverse customer base, you must put in place an inclusive employee culture.
Incorporate Diversity into the Company’s Values
Zero-tolerance policies are often the butt of jokes, but in terms of discriminatory acts, they can save you a lot of headaches. If you, as a leader, believe that discrimination is wrong and want to promote that in your company culture, then be sure to do that. Are there facets of your company that exclude others? This is a subtle form of discrimination. For example, some of your employees speak other languages. Do you allow them to or does your culture make them feel uncomfortable speaking something other than English?
Give Equal Opportunities
Make the steps to promotion and advancement clear to all employees. When an employee reaches an employment milestone, let them know what their chances for advancement are. Having open and honest career development conversations are necessary. For leaders, make sure that you are not being discriminatory when having these conversations. You have to have them with everyone, not the people who look like you. If you have leaders who are not giving equal opportunity, that can be discriminatory. You don’t want to create a culture that allows for discriminatory actions. Make it clear what qualifies as a terminable offense if you find that someone has taken discriminatory actions. On the flip side, if you have to terminate an employee, be sure you have clear legal grounds and that there’s no appearance of discrimination.
Check Your Personal Privilege
Culturally, in the United States, white male power is normalized. White men have had the reins of leadership for a long time. Does this mean that all white men are discriminatory against those of other colors or genders? Of course not. What it does mean is that white men are a privileged class. This form of privilege has nothing to do with wealth, and that can be a point of confusion for some. Instead, this form of privilege is about perception. Media, historical depictions and even religious iconography remind us that, supposedly, professionals, leaders and even God himself are all white men. It’s easy to see white men in positions of power because people have become accustomed to it. Society simply needs to expand its cultural understanding of what a leader is to include those who are not white or male. Privilege in this way simply means that you have had the privilege of not letting the color or your skin stop any opportunities from being open and available to you. Understanding that not everyone has that privilege is a great first step.
Discrimination truly serves nobody, but calling it out can be challenging for protected classes. If you, as a leader, are not part of a protected class, put your power to work to expand diversity in your business. Your customer base and workforce will reflect this to your benefit. Diverse organizations are better organizations. If you feel like you need some help here, please let me know.