Creating Inclusive Hybrid Worplaces

Creating Inclusive Hybrid Worplaces

 Creating Inclusive Hybrid Workplaces

For many of us, we are planning or amidst our transition back to the office or a hybrid model. For some, there is a level of excitement and while for others, there is a level of anxiety. 

The excitement of being around others is wonderful for the extroverts, while the introverts are looking for new ways to manage their energy. 

Creating an inclusive hybrid workplace needs to be a practical, planned and purposeful exercise where extra attention needs to be given to accommodate in-person and remote employees. 

Below are 9 ways to be more inclusive in the hybrid workplace:

  1. Involving remote team members in meetings through inviting them (even last minute), providing video option for meetings
  2. Managing remote meetings (inclusion of those not in the room)
  3. “Transferring” water cooler chat to online chat
  4. Creating an environment where all feel valid for their choice. There is no shaming for working from home
  5. Effective performance management taking into account that rapport is harder to establish online
  6. Ensuring the right information is getting to the right individuals. It is easier to have conversations in person therefore an important piece is remembering who else needs to be a part of that conversation. 
  7. Continue regular weekly 1:2:1 check-ins and regular weekly team meetings are important to create a sense of belonging within the team. 
  8. Encourage team members to participate in cross-organisational committees and activities 
  9. Start weekly meetings with a personal check-in and breakouts where possible to engage team members in conversation. Breakouts can be to discuss key questions like:
    1. How did you feel you contributed in the last week?
    2. What is something you are proud of?
    3. What is a lesson you learned?

Always, feel free to take Veza Global Inclusion Self Assessment Quiz as way to measure where your organization is on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion maturity model.


Supporting Women Within your Organization During the Pandemic

Supporting Women Within your Organization During the Pandemic

To say that this year has been tough for everyone is an understatement. The Covid-19 pandemic has touched every single person in the world and has unapologetically changed everyone’s lives for the foreseeable future. From wearing masks at the grocery store, waving to your friends and family from a two metre distance, and saying “sorry, my wifi cut out” in zoom calls, are all aspects of everyday life that have changed. However, specific groups have been more affected than others. Women and specifically women of colour have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Senior level women are 38 percent more likely to mentor one or more women of colour compared to 23 percent of men. If we let women leave the workforce, this could have detrimental effects on an organization’s profits and overall work culture that we simply can’t afford. 

The challenges women face in the workplace have only intensified in the last six months. Many of these women are working mothers and are now working a “double shift” while balancing their careers, children and keeping up with their homes. As a result of this work/life imbalance, one in four women are contemplating leaving the workforce and leaving behind years of hard work. However, this is extremely alarming for corporate America.

Companies risk losing their women in leadership positions and unwinding all of the progress to implement gender diversity in the workplace. However, this presents itself as an opportunity for organizations. This is the time organizations need to invest in their talent to ensure women have the resources and flexibility during these times to ensure that they don’t leave the workplace. Employers need to foster a sense of nurture culture where women have an equal opportunity to fulfill their potential and career goals.

Losing women in the workforce would translate into a significant financial loss to companies. According to the research, company profits and share performance can be almost 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top. Alongside the profit, women also carry a lot of importance when it comes to creating a positive work culture, employee-friendly policies, and champion racial and gender diversity.

6 Ways Employers can Support Women in the Workplace

  1. Make work more sustainable

Adapting the everyday work-life is essential when supporting women in the workplace. Employers might want to look at the productivity expectations before Covid-19 and adapt them to be more realistic. This might encompass resetting goals, narrowing project scopes or extending deadlines. Another way organizations can support employees is by offering “Covid-19 Days” to give parents a chance to catch-up with their home life or a day to simply recharge. 

2. Reset norms around flexibility

The pandemic has made it harder to strike a good work-life balance as employees might always feel like they are “on”. One way to help improve the balance is to establish set hours for meetings and responding to emails. Leaders can also communicate their support for workplace flexibility to help mitigate the feeling of “always being on” and that it is encouraged to take advantage of flexible work options. When employees believe their employers are supportive of their flexible practices, they are less likely to consider downshifting their careers or leaving. 

3. Take a close look at performance reviews

Performance reviews are a great tool to help gauge how your employees are doing and rewarding their contributions. However, with the shift to remote work, new challenges have risen and the old criteria before Covid-19 may no longer be applicable to today’s environment. Employers can relieve stress by making the performance criteria more attainable to help prevent anxiety and burnout. Ultimately, this can help with overall performance and productivity. 

4. Take steps to minimize gender bias

Throughout this pandemic, biases against women have been amplified and have shown up in new ways. Either kids playing in the background of zoom calls or co-workers assuming their colleagues are doing less work due to taking care of their children while working from home. Since there is less visibility into the day-to-day there leaves room for bias to creep in.

In order to mitigate the biases women face, managers need to ensure that their employees are aware of them. Employers should speak publicly about the impacts of biases, especially during the pandemic. Bias training and tracking promotions between genders is a good way to track if men and women are being treated fairly.

5. Adjust policies and programs to better support employees

Due to the pandemic and its changes to “normal life”, organizations have extended policies and benefits to help support their employees. Resources for mental health and homeschooling are examples of what organizations have in place to help with the new adjustments. As an employer, ensure that all your employees are made aware of the resources that are available to help them during these challenging times. Organizations should also determine if their resources and benefits are addressing the employee’s needs and reallocate time and money for the challenges your employees might need support in.

6. Strengthen employee communication

When shifting to remote work, communication with your employees is critical to ensure that they still feel connected with their managers and peers. One in five employees have consistently felt uninformed or in the dark during the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaders and HR teams should have regular communication and be empathetic towards their employees to make sure all team members feel valued and understood. It has been shown that this practice can reduce anxiety and build trust among teams.

Ensuring that women in the workforce don’t fall through the cracks is essential during the Covid-19 pandemic. All practices have to adapt to these unprecedented times to allow for more flexibility and understanding in the workplace. We have to ensure that we strive for gender equality in the workplace and that we have women paving the way for the younger generations. We have to look at each other as human beings and not just robots that work from 9 to 5. This pandemic is something that no one has ever experienced before and we are all learning how to maneuver through it the best way we can. Organizations need to adopt more flexible and accommodating practices to make sure all their employees can thrive in this new environment.

Supporting Staff During Turbulent Times

Supporting Staff During Turbulent Times

As we have heard many times we are in unprecedented times. The world is watching as the United States elects its next President. It will impact what happens with organizations and how individuals show up. The current election is showing the polarization that exists within our societies and communities. This current election is calling for a deep reflection as individuals and as a nation as to what will you stand up for? What do you believe in? What are you willing to let happen in your world? These questions are ones we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis as organizations and as individuals.

Many organizations are taking the stand to remain non-partisan while they want to support their staff and their resiliency stocks this time. Staff are challenging the status quo by asking to display the pride flag, examining the organizations for their commitment to equality and equity of BIPOC and asking leadership to take a stand and in some cases, any stand.

When staff are challenging the status quo, in reality they want to know they are safe and if the organization is inclusive. Employees want to make sure that their values are aligned with the ones of their company. They want to know their voice matters and they matter. It’s important to make them feel accepted no matter who they are. 

The beauty to organizations is that they are finding out what culture their staff want. They are also discovering what supports are needed to be more inclusive. This presents itself as an opportunity to organizations to reflect on their inclusivity practices. When employees are taking a stand for what they believe in this election, employers will get an insight on what culture they want to create to better support their staff. Most of all, they are finding out what will support their employees and their resiliency.

Resiliency is key when supporting your teams during change. Resiliency can be the saving grace from burn out.

4 Ways To Build Resilience in Your Team 

  1. Checklists and Guides

During times of change, you don’t want to be adding more stress to your employees. Therefore, creating checklists and guidelines can help employees have something to turn to when feeling overwhelmed. Having a standard operating procedure can help newer staff learn the procedures that are set in place. 

  1. Training

When on-boarding new employees, it’s important for them to feel comfortable and included in the organization. Having team meetings to get to know each other and develop an understanding for one another is a great way to promote cohesion amongst the team.

  1. Debriefing Sessions

During turbulent and stressful situations, it’s important to have debriefing sessions with your team. This way everyone can reflect and explain the highlights and the areas of improvement for when the next challenge may arise. Encouraging this team discussion will promote a more supportive and inclusive environment for all staff. 

  1. Work Culture

The final piece of the puzzle for resilience. Work culture. Managers should display positive behaviours in order to create an inclusive environment for all. In an inclusive environment, employees should feel safe to speak up, share bad news, reach out for help and thank their colleagues for their expertise. 

This is the time to think about inclusive culture. To think, plan and strategize on how to be more inclusive. No matter the outcome of the upcoming election, it is important and vital for your employees to feel supported and safe at their workplace. Creating a sense of belonging amongst all departments and positions will put your employees at ease during these turbulent times. 

Setting up an inclusive strategy for your organization is the first step into creating a sense of belonging and safety to your employees of diverse backgrounds and abilities. However, knowing where to start can be a daunting task. This is where Veza helps. Veza and its team of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) experts will help guide your organization through its EDI journey through our Assessment. The Assessment will help you pinpoint areas of improvement with actionable recommendations to help kickstart your organization’s EDI journey. 

To get a snapshot of how your organization is doing for inclusivity, Veza offers a free Self Assessment. If you’re left wanting more after the Free Assessment, your organization can take the plunge into Veza’s Full Assessment. 

Click here to take Veza’s free Assessment!

5 Ways to Manage For Diversity

5 Ways to Manage For Diversity

We all know that diversity of thought in teams is important. The problem is, most of the discussion around diversity and inclusion happens at a high level. People talk about changing an organization’s culture as if it is an easy task. In fact, it is as simple as fixing the office printer, a labyrinth of increasingly frustrating challenges. 

That is the focus of this article, to highlight simple changes that will negotiate a more inclusive company culture. Throughout this article, discrimination is referred to as the bad habit that humanity has developed over centuries that we are trying to correct in a few short years. Fixing every bad habit begins with one simple step: a desire to move forward. Implementing these suggestions to your everyday office function can lead to a happier, more productive, and innovative team without busting the office budget. 

  1. Recognize Your Own Bias

We all have our bias. Yes, even you reader. 
Bias are actually a great thing that every human has. Your bias is a learned memory. Implicit bias is a learned behavior. The recognition that hunting a deer versus a bear was a safer choice is an example of a learned bias transmitted through generations. This concept of selection bias was an adaptive strategy for generational survival. We learned how to hunt and gather the correct foods to feed ourselves. This is the root of where bias came from. (Abrams, Abigail, “Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It”, Time Magazine,  June 2018)

Fast-forwards a few hundred centuries and these biases are still present in our society with good and bad implications. Biases are ingrained in us to help us make every decision, without even being conscious of it. The only way to control your bias is to be aware and recognize it. The more educated you and your team become about bias the more cognisant you can be of correcting the habit.

  1. Break Down Traditional Organizational Structure

    In today’s organizational structure is segmented to produce solutions and products in the most efficient way possible. But how often does the finance team and the human resource team talk, let alone collaborate? How often do top directors and front-line workers chat about strategic decisions? Often we miss what an outside opinion can do because they are not deemed relevant to the task.  You never know what knowledge and experience someone has until you ask them. Start to take initiative to break down the traditional structure and learn from different people in your organization. They may just teach you a thing or two.

3. Lead By Example

How many times have we listened to a CEO preach about diversity and inclusion, but the board of directors looks like a game of spot the difference? 

First, a point of correction, looking at a board of directors will not let us know what diversity of thought they are bringing to the table. We can not know what the experiences, backgrounds and skill set of an individual is based on what they look like. 

Addressing the need for equity, diversity and inclusion can start with a single person, making a single difference. Diversity of thought is about the people you surround yourself with. Thus, the most obvious way to diversify is to bring in new members with different perspectives and experience.  Presenting more opportunities to people of culturally diverse backgrounds such as education and promotions to provide the opportunity and ability to champion more diversity across the organization. Diversifying educational workshops offerings and guest speakers are phenomenal methods to role model diversity within your organization efficiently. Hiring speakers from diverse backgrounds will also broadcast their messages and stories of underrepresented groups in the corporate environment. 

Creating a more inclusive work environment can begin with something as simple as making an effort to use progressive language to role model the standard you hold your team to. Small gestures such as recognizing other people’s cultural celebrations and practices can make a team member feel more welcomed into a workspace. If you are unsure of how best to make your team member feel comfortable and welcome, simply asking and starting a dialog will lead you to the correct answers opposed to assuming incorrectly.

  1. Offer Flexible Workspaces

Whether you are getting the kids to soccer practice, or have a weekend getaway booked, everyone’s schedules are hectic. The diversity in our teams also means that we all have different schedules and priorities. Offering flexibility to your employees can create a happier and more inclusive workplace. Remote work opens the opportunity to succeed and create a healthier work life balance by allowing employees to work when and where they are comfortable.

Despite major advancements in workplace cultures, parents still often struggle to raise a family and maintain a career. Women are especially susceptible to feeling the social pressure both financially and socially to quit her career to raise their family. Removing this pressure by allowing parents to choose when they work creates a more inclusive environment because parents who would have previously quit their jobs can succeed at both raising a family and their professional career. Encouraging employees to utilize a flexible schedule to allow for family duties will result in happier and more productive employees as they can work when they feel they are most productive. No one needs to explain how much more a happy employee is worth opposed to a new one.  

  1. Communication, Communication, Communication

If you have heard this line once, you have heard 1000 times. It is the root of all success and the downfall of all failures. Communication. When managing for diversity, good and frequent communication is the key to blending a diverse team together. Convey the diversity of your team not just to the world but to your own team. Working to communicate the diversity of your team unify their differences to create a cohesive team. Broadcasting success stories of other employees in leadership, educational and mentoring opportunities available to people of culturally diverse backgrounds can elevate and inspire your team to achieve their personal and career goals. 

Thank you for reading and we at Veza Global hope you found this educational and entertaining. Please let us know what you think of this and other blog posts at hello@vezaglobal.com.

Veza Global is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) organization advocating for equity and equality for underrepresented groups with a focused lens on the leadership journey of people of culturally diverse backgrounds.

Diversity of Thought and Inclusive Culture are the pillars of the approach that Veza takes to build capacity for organization to execute on their EDI strategy. Veza offers EDI Assessment and Audits, EDI strategy development and Inclusive Leadership Training and Coaching.

Through Veza’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Assessment tool, companies can identify under an hour where they are on the EDI Maturity Model and receive a list of detailed recommendations and actionable next steps for their EDI strategy to move forward to a more inclusive organization.

Supporting diverse populations

In these uncertain times, my thoughts have been with the populations that I have been working to support for the last few years – those from the underrepresented groups. Usually I am focused on the equality of pay for people of color, however we spend a lot of time working with organizations on hiring people who are newcomers, people with disabilities and Indigenous that I can’t help to think about how we can help them. I need your help to do that. 

These individuals are usually the ones who are already struggling to find meaningful employment and many times close to the poverty line (26% -33% of those in poverty are immigrant and Indigenous women). Times where there are so many layoffs and companies are impacted financially, these individuals are some of the first who will be losing their jobs. 

Here are a few strategies that I am thinking about. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to support these individuals further:

For companies, who haven’t laid people off yet, strategize with your team on what is possible. Are there opportunities available to the company right now that were not available before? Is there another way to decrease expenses while keeping team members employed? 

Donate locally. Many of these individuals will be accessing the Adopt a school program and the Food bank. Please give to local organizations like the food programs or women’s shelters or other programs (please comment with suggestions below).

Gather resources in your community. Is there a place on your street or in your cul-de-sac where food can be left that people can access without having to ask for it (this is a total out of the box idea but think big people)?

As a company, give relief to your customers if possible. It will help with their cash flow and stress.

Set up a call with someone outside of your immediate circle and just connect. Connection can be what gives someone hope that they are not alone. 

I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas on how we can support these individuals.