Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace has evolved beyond creating a productive multicultural and diverse work environment. In recent DE&I discourse, thought leaders are pioneering efforts to ensure the psychological safety of their employees amidst risks that involve racism, sexual harassment, homophobia, COVID exposure, passionate political divisiveness, and workplace violence.
Psychological safety according to The Fearless Organization, by Professor Amy C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School, is “the shared belief that it’s safe to take interpersonal risks as a group. These risks include speaking up when there’s a problem with the team dynamics and sharing creative ideas, among others.” Edmonson points out that “a company can only make real progress when employees feel free to discuss their plans and ideas and dare to express their concerns openly.” Employees should not be fearful of retribution from those who may not agree with their ideas. Open dialogue, respect and celebrating our cultural differences foster creativity and a climate in the workplace for enhanced productivity.
Fostering empathy and communication is key in creating a work environment where reporting an employee with mental health issues or grievances against a violent employee has a protocol that is sensitive, confidential, and legal. Nurturing such an environment is critical in view that gun violence in the workplace and hate crimes continue in shocking escalation across the country. Data compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University found that between 2006 and February 2020, there had been 13 mass workplace shootings carried out by a current or former employee.
CEOs are challenged with risk management in defense of their brands, and they are under the heightened scrutiny of public opinion. In this volatile social justice climate, DE&I strategies must include ways to integrate and foster lasting bonds between employees, their brand and target audiences.
Where to start? An assessment of the current state of work culture is a first step towards achieving DE&I goals. Organizations must focus and determine the collective psychological state of their company. An assessment or internal survey is key to create a benchmark or starting point to determine goals. There must be a clear process to respond to an interpersonal crisis, lawsuit, or on-site violence to protect employees. Open dialogue on the results of a survey provides transparency, builds trust, and helps prioritize issues and an action plan to move forward. The approach works best when it is an organic and authentic assessment process that is inclusive of all levels in the organization. The focus must be on the identified critical priorities and must evolve into the creation of a viable plan that integrates diverse cultures and best business practices. A company must showcase progress across the enterprise by:
- tracking milestones with follow-up surveys that show increased favorability towards the company hiring practices
- planning recognition events
- tracking promotions
- redirecting the vision towards more ambitious goals.
DE&I strategies must move beyond dialogue and into realistic, actionable steps that are measurable and designed to show results integrated to business goals.
A DE&I approach guided by a focus on psychological safety will lead to strategies that go beyond employee demographics such as race, sexual preferences or functional disabilities. A deeper dive on data (within legal considerations) requires incorporating self-identified categories, behavioral factors and values in specific company areas or teams. This will uncover sub-cultures that lead to a better understanding of the employee experience and their needs. The objective is to build a culture that fosters a safe interpersonal space devoid of fear of expression and retaliation.
For more than 20 years, Comunicad has applied its expertise in DE&I and thought leadership to maintain a healthy work environment for our employees, guide our clients with programs that build employee productivity and offer pathways to recruitment and retention of employees in a diverse corporate ecosystem. A 2017 Gallup report found that “if organizations increase psychological safety, it makes employees more engaged in their work and can lead to a 12% increase in productivity.”
Comunicad’s philosophy for DE&I client services is heightened by our unique cultural intelligence, which guides the melding of corporate brands with their values and vision to authentically reflect the communities they serve in the U.S. and around the world.
We sourced a Forbes Business Council guide with 15 ways to promote psychological safety within the workplace culture. The first five steps are:
- Engage with Consideration and Authenticity
- Don’t Rush to Fix Things
- Lead with Empathy, Not Ego
- Be Open to Feedback
- Build Trust by Being Transparent
For more steps in this process, visit:
Or contact us at: http://www.comunicad.com