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What is EQUITY in the workplace?

In the simplest terms, equity is about ensuring fairness. It means that everyone should have access to the same opportunities and support, regardless of their background or identity.

By definition, it sounds pretty straight forward!

However, workplaces are still struggling with implementing equitable practices, which can manifest in a variety of ways, from subtle biases to outright discrimination.

This is where INTERSECTIONALITY comes into play.

Intersectionality recognizes that individuals have multiple dimensions of identity, such as:

  • Race/ Ethnicity

  • Gender

  • Religion

  • Sexuality

  • Visible & Non-Visible Disability

  • Socio-Economic Status

These can interact and contribute to experiences of discrimination and marginalization. Therefore, an equitable workplace must consider and address the ways in which different dimensions of identity intersect and impact individuals' experiences at work.

So, how can companies build an equitable workplace?

1. Create a culture of inclusion:

One of the key ways that companies can build a culture of inclusion is by taking actionable steps to promote diversity and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Some steps that businesses can take to create a more inclusive workplace include:

  • Provide diversity training: Offering diversity training to employees can help raise awareness of different perspectives and experiences, and help reduce unconscious biases. This can include training on topics such as cultural competency, unconscious bias, and microaggressions.

  • Promote inclusive language: Using inclusive language can help create a more welcoming and respectful environment. This can include using gender-neutral pronouns, avoiding stereotypes, and using inclusive language in job descriptions and company communications.

  • Review company policies: Reviewing company policies can help identify any barriers to entry or advancement. This can include policies related to parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and promotions.

  • Celebrate the diversity of your team: By recognizing and celebrating the diversity of beliefs and identities within the team, businesses can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for all employees. This can help build a sense of community and shared purpose, which can contribute to a more collaborative and productive workplace. Additionally, celebrating differences can help raise awareness of different perspectives and experiences, and promote a culture of learning and growth. By embracing and valuing intersectionality, you can foster a workplace culture that values diversity and promotes equity and inclusion for all employees.

Some examples of inclusive activities that employees could enjoy include:

  • Volunteer work: Organize a volunteer day where employees can give back to the local community. This can help build a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among employees.

  • Team building events: Plan team-building activities that are inclusive and accessible to all employees. This can include things like escape rooms, cooking classes, or group fitness classes.

  • Employee-led initiatives: Encourage employees to take the lead in planning events and initiatives that reflect their interests and experiences. This can include things like book clubs, art shows, or cultural celebrations.

  • Nurture developmental relationships: According to a Forbes article, "developmental relationships" can be more effective than traditional mentorship or sponsorship for championing employees' careers. Developmental relationships are characterized by mutual learning and growth, where both parties can benefit from each other's expertise and knowledge. This approach can help employees build a network of supportive relationships that can help them navigate challenges and advance their careers.

2. Implement fair pay practices:

To implement fair pay practices within the business, you can take the following steps:

  • Ensure that compensation packages are transparent and based on objective criteria.

  • Conduct regular pay equity audits to identify and address any disparities.

3. Foster a culture of feedback:

Encourage open communication and feedback to help identify and address any equity issues in the workplace. This can include:

  • Regular pulse surveys: Conducting regular pulse surveys can help track employee satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. These surveys should include questions related to equity and inclusion, such as whether employees feel valued and respected, whether they have access to the same opportunities as their peers, and whether they have experienced any discrimination or harassment.

  • Focus groups: Conducting focus groups can provide a more in-depth understanding of employee experiences and perspectives. These groups should be facilitated by a neutral third party to ensure that employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.

  • One-on-one check-ins: Regular check-ins with employees can provide an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues in a safe and supportive environment. These check-ins should be conducted on a regular basis and can be used to provide feedback, set goals, and address any challenges or concerns.

Creating an equitable workplace is the goal and is one that will need to be constantly assessed as team needs change over time and priorities shift. If you take-away one thing from this article on creating an equitable working environment, it's to always be speaking and engaging with your team members so you know how to best support them within their careers and be as transparent as possible.

Good communication is key!

What else would you add to this list to create an equitable workplace?

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