Embracing a culture of diversity and inclusiveness is proven to have various benefits that go beyond simple profitability. Embedding these concepts is a work in progress for many businesses, but there are steps you can take to help set the wheels in motion.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance” – Vernā Myers.
The benefits of greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace and wider social scenarios are well-documented. It’ll take active effort to put these concepts into practice to bring about the positive change required for everyone to feel valued and included within the engineering and architecture professions.
So here are this month’s Top Tips that can help your workplace, right now…
Make time to think about the people you interact with.
Prior to a meeting or planned interaction, take a minute to think about who will be attending and how your behaviour might impact them. Ask yourself questions such as ‘is there anything I should be particularly considerate of?’, and ‘what is going to make attendees most comfortable?’
When you’re booking a venue, consider whether it meets all attendees’ needs. Are there various catering options available? Do they have non-gendered bathrooms? Is it wheelchair accessible?
Ensuring that a venue is comfortable for all of your attendees allows them to focus on the task at hand, rather than wishing they were elsewhere. You’ll find a more positive and engaged outcome as a result, with participants who feel they’ve been included.
Normalise the sharing of pronouns.
By encouraging all staff, regardless of their gender, to share their pronouns, you remove the assumption that people can guess a person’s pronouns by their name or how they look. This creates an environment where those using non-gendered pronouns feel more welcome to do so.
If you are in a situation where one person is unaware of someone’s pronouns, help by making their pronouns clear when introducing them. For example, “Hi Sean, this is Sally. They had a hand in the work I sent you last week.” This indicates to Sean that Sally’s pronouns are they/them, reducing the likelihood of Sally being misgendered. And also, remember to be an ally – don’t be afraid to correct someone if they do misgender.
Try to gain an understanding of your privilege.
Privilege is not about things that make our lives easier. In this context, a privilege is an attribute that the absence of which creates additional challenges in your life.
By investigating your own privilege and understanding what hindrances others may face, you can be more conscious of including people who may otherwise feel marginalised or excluded.
Challenge yourself to be open to, and understanding of, opinions from people who have a different identity makeup.
Affinity Bias is a tendency to gravitate towards people who share similar interests, backgrounds, and beliefs. By making yourself consciously aware of this natural bias, you and your colleagues can generate fresh and new ideas, as well as solutions that represent much more diverse origins.
Next time you host a workshop or large meeting, randomly allocate attendees’ seating. This is a simple and effective way to reduce affinity bias without fuss.
As always, ask questions!
One of the best ways to get to know your colleagues and build empathy and understanding of their experiences, is to ask them. Respectful, thoughtful questions will help provide the feeling of an inclusive and safe area where others can be open and help you to help them.