HR teams are busier than ever now with managing remote workforces, improving employee engagement, and planning for 2021. Addressing inclusivity is also top-of-mind for many companies, but often they’re not sure where to start. Reflektive partnered with LifeLabs to share the best ways companies can start building inclusivity, now. We’ve also learned best practices from Reflektive customers Allbirds, Stack Overflow, and Symetra on how they’ve created inclusive cultures.
Before launching DEI initiatives, companies should assess their current state of inclusivity to identify the highest priority actions to take. Is there bias in hiring practices? Do women feel that they lack a voice in meetings? With these insights, HR teams can better plan and prioritize their inclusivity efforts.
LifeLabs recommends starting with surveys and focus groups to gather these insights. Per Megan Wheeler, LifeLabs Leadership Coach, it’s often difficult for leaders to know employee sentiment on inclusivity. “It’s like wearing sweaters,” she said. “The higher up you are, the more sweaters you put on, and it’s hard to know the temperature of the broader workforce.”
At Stack Overflow, Melissa Bruno, VP of People, says: “Data is your friend. It validates the business case.” Her approach is to run real-time office pulse surveys on a monthly basis for the entire company. And on a quarterly basis, she runs targeted surveys to capture specific data on underrepresented groups. These surveys help ensure that Stack Overflow is living one of its core values of being a flexible and inclusive work environment.
Creating Inclusive Systems
Once employee sentiment data is gathered, the next step is to identify the system that you’d like to tackle first, per LifeLabs. Systems include:
- Recruiting & Hiring
- Benefits & Work Conditions
- Reviews & Promotions
- Meetings & Connections
- Learning & Growth
Read below for quick ways to drive inclusivity within these different systems.
Recruiting & Hiring
LifeLabs recommends starting at the beginning of the candidate experience, with the job description. Does it include words like “dominate” and “ninja”? Terms like these tend to attract more male candidates.
Additionally, clear hiring criteria and structured interviews – in which every single applicant has the exact same questions in the same order – help remove bias as well. “When companies are treating candidates differently, that’s like giving different exams to students, and really creates an unfair playing field,” says Megan. Processes including salary negotiations should be evaluated too. “They reward individuals who are better at negotiating with a better salary,” Megan pointed out.
Benefits & Work Conditions
To stay in sync with employee needs, LifeLabs recommends Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Per Megan, 70% of recent college grads are more likely to apply to an organization that has ERGs.
Reflektive customer Symetra regularly turns to its ERGs to provide insights and ideas for the business. Per Lisa Bruno, HR Business Partner at Symetra, the company now has seven ERGs to engage members and allies and foster a sense of belonging. “We really look to these groups to represent diverse voices and thoughts in our business and policies. We’ve had webinars and forums with our ERGs, and they’ve helped us see new ways of doing things at Symetra.”
Another way that companies can be more inclusive in their benefits and work conditions is by providing paid time off, especially after tragedies. With this time, employees can grieve, protest, or get involved with their communities.
Finally, LifeLabs recommends inclusion training with simple, actionable steps that all employees can take to create a more welcoming workplace. Reflektive customer Allbirds dedicated significant time and resources to their inclusion training program. Per Jessica Barhydt, Associate Director of Talent Development at Allbirds, the org hosted a company-wide allyship workshop with a DEI consultancy. They also hosted two inclusive leadership workshops: one for the executive team, and one for all people managers. “These workshops really focused on voice, belonging, objectivity, and having a growth mindset,” says Jessica. “They helped us build the baseline skills, and open up dialogue, for people managers.”
Reviews & Promotions
Another area in which bias frequently occurs is performance reviews. LifeLabs recommended Reflektive’s performance reviews for their behavioral assessments. “Reflektive’s solution really helps remove the blurriness that happens when we give feedback,” says Megan. Reflektive’s behavior-based feedback, including questions such as “Talk about a time when this employee demonstrated our core values,” creates more objective reviews. Symetra leveraged Reflektive’s reviews and check-ins to tailor their theme around inclusivity. “We included questions such as, ‘What can I do better as a manager to make you feel included?’ Our quarterly check-in process was updated to connect better to employees’ daily lives,” says Lisa.
Biases can also be removed from performance reviews by leveraging them for developmental purposes, rather than tying them to promotions and compensation. “When people know that compensation is tied to performance reviews, they’re going to exhibit bias and skew positive in their feedback,” says Megan at LifeLabs.
Learn how Reflektive customer HoganTaylor crafted development-driven performance reviews
Meetings & Connections
Outside of formal performance programs, companies can still make a huge impact on corporate inclusivity. In team meetings, LifeLabs recommends equal turn-taking to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Team members should ensure that everyone has time to finish their thoughts.
LifeLabs also recommends that attention be paid to the time of day that meetings are happening. Is the time convenient for all attendees? If it’s not, can the time be rotated? Finally, LifeLabs suggests that companies make room for phatic communication, aka small talk. “This is the number one way for employees to know whether they’re in or out,” says Megan. “It creates a feeling of care, so employees feel like they’re part of the ‘in’ group.”
Learning & Growth
Providing opportunities for development helps drive cultures of inclusivity. LifeLabs suggests mentorship programs so employees can learn how best to advance their careers. Consistent 1:1s also provide helpful touchpoints in which employees can ask managers about key skills and competencies that they should develop. Additionally, norms on giving consistent feedback throughout the year drive helpful performance insights for employees.
80% of staff at Kittelson agree that their colleagues provide them with timely and meaningful feedback. Check out our case study to learn how they accomplished this.
Ready to measure and improve inclusivity at your company? Talk to a Reflektive expert.