Pride Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and many other diversity/inclusion months are great ways for society to recognize inclusivity. It seems to be a trend in some companies to only acknowledge these concepts during their respective months. For example, rainbow logos become popular during Pride month, spotlights on African Americans during Black History Month and Notable Women during Women’s History month. All these celebrations seem to disappear once the beginning of the next month starts. But the struggles of these groups don’t stop existing when their month is over, in fact, it can become more difficult for them. Workplace discrimination is an unfortunate reality many people face daily, and it can manifest in subtle, hard to spot ways that can catch us off-guard. Supporting marginalized peoples is a year-round effort, and here are three things we can do in our businesses to help them out.
Minority groups can experience discrimination at any time based on their gender, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, appearance, or any other number of reasons. This intolerance can come from any direction, in or out of the workplace. As a company, we can lead by being firm with our stance on these matters: discrimination of any kind is not allowed in our workplace. Everyone is welcome, no one is to be cast out. Anyone who might harbor discriminatory feelings, whether intentional or systemic, can be identified and properly educated on why their views are harmful to others, so they don’t carry that to wherever else they might go. Meetings are a great place to look for that kind of behavior (You can learn all about making your meetings better in other ways on our other blogs). But beyond that, making sure our employees know that we are a safe space to go to if anyone finds themselves face to face with discrimination is a great step towards ensuring an overall welcoming environment.
At Your Clear Next Step, we hold monthly DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) events as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. One important goal of these events is to help us understand and recognize implicit bias, so that we can hold ourselves accountable and not inadvertently perpetuate a problem. Additionally, these events serve to help all our employees understand the struggles of marginalized peoples by learning about both the current struggles and history of minorities. We don’t make these events mandatory, as enforcing attendance can lead to a lack of interest, but rather we encourage participation whenever possible. Our goal is to grow in our understanding, help our employees who do not experience discrimination empathize with marginalized peoples, and create an environment of belonging.
If you would like to learn more about these events, you can check out this mock-up of the YCNS DEI Initiative page, which details all our upcoming events and links to their sources. We use our page to house past recordings of our gatherings as well (but those and our Zoom links have been disabled for this mock-up).
Build an Event Calendar
There are many holidays relevant to marginalized groups that are not on the radar of the larger public. Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday was a major step in the right direction, but plenty of important days in history still go by uneventfully. We suggest finding these valuable dates and consolidating them into one central calendar that’s accessible alongside the company calendar. This will help employees understand just how deep this often-overlooked history can run, and how many battles have been fought for the rights won in the end. It can also emphasize how much more work there is to be done, by acknowledging and celebrating these holidays. Here is a diversity calendar that you might be able to use to find out more about these dates.
Marginalized peoples deserve to have their struggles known and acknowledged, and the first step is understanding. With understanding comes empathy and the desire to create an environment of belonging. Those who have not experienced the same hardships can do their best to help whenever possible. Continuing to teach about and focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion ensures an educated workforce and further dismantling of the systemic problems our world faces. How about you? How do you keep DEI at the top of your mind throughout the year?