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3 Critical Shifts That Can Make Your Workplace More Inclusive

September 2, 2022

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More businesses than ever are working toward workplace inclusivity. But the reality is we still have a long way to go. According to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign survey, 46% of LGBTQ+ Americans are closeted at work, and 31% say they feel unhappy or depressed. 

Luckily, one person is on a mission to change this by helping organizations create a sense of belonging. Meet Dr. Steve Yacovelli, principal of TopDog Learning Group and author of “Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of Their Jungle.” 

Dr. Steve is the self-proclaimed Gay Leadership Dude, working with company leaders to be more consciously inclusive. He recently joined us on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to talk about creating a place of belonging. And in this episode, he shares three critical shifts for any SMB:

1. Remember to think in, speak up, and act out. 

Dr. Steve teaches business leaders a framework he created for working toward conscious inclusiveness, and he calls the approach think in, speak up, act out. Here’s how it helps leaders consider all people’s experiences and work toward a place of belonging: 

First, think inward about what you’re communicating to employees. That means paying attention to your formal and informal communication and whether your employee training includes messages on inclusivity. “What are [you] doing to educate [yourselves] and those around [you] to really think about [company] behavior?” Dr. Steve explained. 

For example, you could link to an article on the importance of pronouns within your email signature to signify your support and educate others. Or you can dedicate an entire section of your onboarding to conscious inclusivity and teach about the importance of belonging. 

Next, consider your company language and speak up with messages of inclusivity. This could include company jargon, like using the term chairman versus chairperson. But above all, it’s about asking, “Are [you] falling victim to the words and actions [from] unconscious bias?” 

For example, Dr. Steve previously used the greetings “hey guys” and “brothers and sisters” until he realized the language wasn’t inclusive of all gender identities. Now, he avoids the exclusive terms, speaks using more inclusive language, and embraces his southern “hey y’all” greeting. 

Finally, apply your newfound insight by acting out to improve the bigger picture. “Put [an inclusive] lens through every single part of the workplace,” Dr. Steve explained. And when you find a problem, fix it immediately — whether that means changing company assets or recruiting methods.

For instance, maybe you need to check your company photos (within your office or on your website) and ensure they represent your diverse team. Or, maybe you need to rethink where you source your candidates to ensure more diversity. The point is that you do something

“When people can bring [their] full selves to work, [they] want to stay, give 110%, and promote your business to their friends.” - Dr. Steve Yacovelli, principal of TopDog Learning Group and author of “Pride Leadership”

2. Encourage and consult affinity groups or ERGs.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are groups of employees within your company who organize based on similar characteristics or life experiences. They’re sometimes referred to as affinity groups — Trainual has six of them — and they provide incredible feedback and value for SMBs. 

“Listen to [ERGs] and encourage them to provide feedback because that’s the value, that’s the diversity of thought and perspective that [you] can gain as a business. Why would you ignore that free advice if you’re getting it?”

For example, when you’re running through your “think in, speak up, act out” exercise, you could consult ERGs to understand your business from each lens. And if you ever feel uncertain about how you’re communicating inclusivity, ask ERGs the following questions for feedback: 

  • Is this okay? 
  • Does this look okay? 
  • Does this make sense? 
  • Are we doing the right thing here?

When business leaders take the time to ask these questions, they acknowledge and encourage employees to bring their whole selves (and experiences) to work. And when you actually listen to the advice and take action, you inherently create a place of belonging for everyone. 

3. Audit through the lens of everyone within your operation.

Dr. Steve also suggests auditing your company policies and culture through the lens of everyone working for your company. That way, you ensure that inclusivity exists across the entire organization and for all employees — or at least that’s what you aim to do. 

“[You’re] never going to get it all right as a business,” Dr. Steve shared. “I still screw up, and I’ve been living in [this] space.” But as long as you take advice and course correct, you can proactively get better and take steps in the right direction.

For example, if you send out engagement surveys, ask employees if they feel like they belong or feel safe to be authentic at work. “This one question is a great parameter on [whether] people feel welcomed, safe, and belong at [your] workplace,” Dr. Steve explained. 

In addition to the surveys, audit your company assets and policies to look for potential gaps. For instance, your marketing materials might communicate the wrong message. Your HR policies might neglect parental leave for adoptive families. Or your health insurance options might leave out trans healthcare. But you have to actively seek out these gaps to fill them. 

“Empathy is underutilized as an effective leadership tool. And this is a great opportunity to exercise that empathy by hearing things through the ears of others.”

Creating a workplace where everyone feels like they belong is no easy feat. But with Dr. Steve’s advice (and a lot of empathy, intentionality, and accountability), you can ensure all employees feel safe and welcome at work.

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3 Critical Shifts That Can Make Your Workplace More Inclusive

September 2, 2022

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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More businesses than ever are working toward workplace inclusivity. But the reality is we still have a long way to go. According to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign survey, 46% of LGBTQ+ Americans are closeted at work, and 31% say they feel unhappy or depressed. 

Luckily, one person is on a mission to change this by helping organizations create a sense of belonging. Meet Dr. Steve Yacovelli, principal of TopDog Learning Group and author of “Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of Their Jungle.” 

Dr. Steve is the self-proclaimed Gay Leadership Dude, working with company leaders to be more consciously inclusive. He recently joined us on the “Organize Chaos” podcast to talk about creating a place of belonging. And in this episode, he shares three critical shifts for any SMB:

1. Remember to think in, speak up, and act out. 

Dr. Steve teaches business leaders a framework he created for working toward conscious inclusiveness, and he calls the approach think in, speak up, act out. Here’s how it helps leaders consider all people’s experiences and work toward a place of belonging: 

First, think inward about what you’re communicating to employees. That means paying attention to your formal and informal communication and whether your employee training includes messages on inclusivity. “What are [you] doing to educate [yourselves] and those around [you] to really think about [company] behavior?” Dr. Steve explained. 

For example, you could link to an article on the importance of pronouns within your email signature to signify your support and educate others. Or you can dedicate an entire section of your onboarding to conscious inclusivity and teach about the importance of belonging. 

Next, consider your company language and speak up with messages of inclusivity. This could include company jargon, like using the term chairman versus chairperson. But above all, it’s about asking, “Are [you] falling victim to the words and actions [from] unconscious bias?” 

For example, Dr. Steve previously used the greetings “hey guys” and “brothers and sisters” until he realized the language wasn’t inclusive of all gender identities. Now, he avoids the exclusive terms, speaks using more inclusive language, and embraces his southern “hey y’all” greeting. 

Finally, apply your newfound insight by acting out to improve the bigger picture. “Put [an inclusive] lens through every single part of the workplace,” Dr. Steve explained. And when you find a problem, fix it immediately — whether that means changing company assets or recruiting methods.

For instance, maybe you need to check your company photos (within your office or on your website) and ensure they represent your diverse team. Or, maybe you need to rethink where you source your candidates to ensure more diversity. The point is that you do something

“When people can bring [their] full selves to work, [they] want to stay, give 110%, and promote your business to their friends.” - Dr. Steve Yacovelli, principal of TopDog Learning Group and author of “Pride Leadership”

2. Encourage and consult affinity groups or ERGs.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are groups of employees within your company who organize based on similar characteristics or life experiences. They’re sometimes referred to as affinity groups — Trainual has six of them — and they provide incredible feedback and value for SMBs. 

“Listen to [ERGs] and encourage them to provide feedback because that’s the value, that’s the diversity of thought and perspective that [you] can gain as a business. Why would you ignore that free advice if you’re getting it?”

For example, when you’re running through your “think in, speak up, act out” exercise, you could consult ERGs to understand your business from each lens. And if you ever feel uncertain about how you’re communicating inclusivity, ask ERGs the following questions for feedback: 

  • Is this okay? 
  • Does this look okay? 
  • Does this make sense? 
  • Are we doing the right thing here?

When business leaders take the time to ask these questions, they acknowledge and encourage employees to bring their whole selves (and experiences) to work. And when you actually listen to the advice and take action, you inherently create a place of belonging for everyone. 

3. Audit through the lens of everyone within your operation.

Dr. Steve also suggests auditing your company policies and culture through the lens of everyone working for your company. That way, you ensure that inclusivity exists across the entire organization and for all employees — or at least that’s what you aim to do. 

“[You’re] never going to get it all right as a business,” Dr. Steve shared. “I still screw up, and I’ve been living in [this] space.” But as long as you take advice and course correct, you can proactively get better and take steps in the right direction.

For example, if you send out engagement surveys, ask employees if they feel like they belong or feel safe to be authentic at work. “This one question is a great parameter on [whether] people feel welcomed, safe, and belong at [your] workplace,” Dr. Steve explained. 

In addition to the surveys, audit your company assets and policies to look for potential gaps. For instance, your marketing materials might communicate the wrong message. Your HR policies might neglect parental leave for adoptive families. Or your health insurance options might leave out trans healthcare. But you have to actively seek out these gaps to fill them. 

“Empathy is underutilized as an effective leadership tool. And this is a great opportunity to exercise that empathy by hearing things through the ears of others.”

Creating a workplace where everyone feels like they belong is no easy feat. But with Dr. Steve’s advice (and a lot of empathy, intentionality, and accountability), you can ensure all employees feel safe and welcome at work.

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3 Critical Shifts That Can Make Your Workplace More Inclusive

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