3 Ways to Promote a Diverse and Inclusive Company Culture (Even When You’re Not a Manager)

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Sabriya Dobbins150
Virtual Mental Wellness Retreats Lead
April 15, 2024 at 10:19AM UTC

Now more than ever, workplaces have to make the extra effort to show they are worthy of the talent they seek — and they have to do it with authenticity. The workforce has made it clear that they will not tolerate working in environments that are not committed to the well-being and success of all people, regardless of their background. 

Everyone has a part to play in ensuring a workplace is safe for all individuals; thus every employee should be held accountable for upholding inclusive spaces at work. While it is easy to complicate diversity and inclusion efforts, here are three ways to make your company culture more inclusive  — even if you are not in a leadership position.

1. Get to know your peers. 

It may seem so simple, but many people are afraid to create working relationships with their peers because of the old adage: “Keep life and work separate.” Here’s the thing. Life is work and work is life. Everyone is experiencing collective struggles as our world has changed forever. The one lesson to learn from all of this collective pandemic trauma is that we are human-first. By spending time during lunch or during breaks throughout the day to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level, you begin to see them holistically, as more than just someone who is different from you that shows up at work each day. Through organic conversation, you learn about their culture, their beliefs, their values, and their overall way of life — but this only happens when you listen closely. 

Start small with maybe sharing things about your family and hobbies and over time, conversations can build from there. Take it one step further and remember what you learn about your coworkers so that you can celebrate or check in on them when the time comes; for example, make note of things shared such as cultural holidays, pending news, or birthdays. 

Showing you care goes a long way in creating a space of inclusion. Find your points of commonality and celebrate them. Respectfully learn your differences and appreciate them. Connection is where an inclusive culture begins.

2. Create your own zero-tolerance policy. 

Work environments become unsafe because of the acceptance of unsafe behaviors. If one person contributes to negatively impacting the workplace, everyone suffers. Even if everyone is not on board, make it clear that you are the person that will not tolerate hate speech, disrespect, or discrimination of any kind in your presence. 

It’s important to set this expectation as clearly as possible, whether it be through conversations or even office signage, if possible. When a joke or statement is made that does not promote inclusion, make it clear that you do not feel comfortable being a part of the conversation and that you do not appreciate what is being said. If you are struggling to communicate this or have a hard time communicating it to a person due to their position, you can always report this to HR with nonretaliation policies to protect you. If possible, you may be able to request to submit your report anonymously to help you feel more comfortable. 

3. Be a good referral employee. 

Promoting a diverse and inclusive culture includes ensuring there are a variety of backgrounds employed in the workplace. Referrals are powerful as they typically carry much more weight than a person on the outside traditionally applying for a role. If you are able to refer diverse individuals from your personal life to positions at your workplace, use your power to do just that. Don’t be afraid to advocate for them and be patient enough to go the extra mile to ensure they are getting the support they may need. Your referral can hold more influence and become a small part of improving the workplace diversity of your job. 

While diversity is more than just a bunch of different faces from varying places, having a company that is working hard to build a representative workforce of the diverse world we live in is a step in the right direction. 

DEI is a crucial effort that requires everyone to be on board for the sweeping changes to really take place. It is our job to take responsibility in the areas where we can support and promote the efforts of implementing a safe space for all. When we start with just ourselves, the ripple effects of our actions are what create a work culture that everyone can thrive in.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Sabriya Dobbins, award-winning Founder of Project Passport and Life Discovery Expert, graduated from North Carolina State University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Animal Science and Social Work. She runs Project Passport, which is a proactive wellness service company designed with the goal of providing preventative mental wellness tools and solutions to companies, organizations, and individual women.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for promoting a diverse and inclusive company culture? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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