Have you ever been to a social event, where you didn’t feel part of the proceedings?
You spent time getting ready, chose your outfit with care, and now you’re left wishing you hadn’t bothered, because everyone else is engaged in deep conversation, except you.
It’s awkward, and you’re sweating from the hard work of pretending you’re having fun, when all you want is for the clock to indicate it’s a socially acceptable time to make your excuses and escape.
You’re wondering “what’s wrong with me?”
The answer is nothing, but inclusion has to be more than just an entry ticket.
This is about equity. Being given the same opportunity as everyone else irrespective of your background, ethnicity, neurodiversity, or gender.
We are all different. No two brains are alike. How you think, learn, process information, and operate is unique to you. Equity and inclusion are vital for greater diversity and equality in the workplace.
Equity matters because it equates to feeling happier at work, raising levels of engagement, productivity, and performance.
How good is it to enjoy your work, to have great job satisfaction and know you’re doing well? Quite a lot actually. A 2021 CNBC Workplace Survey found that 80% of those surveyed indicated they wanted to work for a company that values diversity, inclusion and equality. Business leaders take note!
While from a business perspective, a 2020 McKinsey report Diversity Still Matters revealed how important diversity and inclusion would be to business recovery, resilience and re-imagination in the post-Covid world.
Would you agree?
Embracing equity is this year’s theme for the 2023 International Women’s Day.
Three elements for building greater workplace equity include:
- Safety for contribution
What difference would it make to consider your own situation and that of others and be open to asking what could be done differently (or better) that would benefit everyone?
Do you as a parent with young children have the flexibility needed to work around school hours?
Do you working part-time or on a casual basis get remembered for training programs and social events?
But of course, the biggest killer of curiosity is stress, when you’re too snowed under to have the headspace to pause and ask, “what’s possible?” or “what needs to happen?”
It’s natural to seek out those we see as “like” us. You feel safe knowing those you’re with share the same interests or way of looking at the world as you do. Connection is vital to creating that sense of belonging.
From an equity perspective, this is about seeking common ground with those you see as different from yourself.
We’re so good at passing judgment and making assumptions about people we don’t know anything about, which are frequently completely wrong.
Do you ever start a conversation with someone you might otherwise have ignored, to try and find an invisible thread of connection?
Safety for Contribution
Working in an equitable environment means you’re operating on a level playing field. This includes items like equal pay for equal work or being treated fairly when being rostered for shifts.
Even the perception of inequality is enormously damaging to personal motivation and discretionary contribution. Fairness is a potent social driver along with trust, respect, and autonomy.
Promoting equity is always a work in progress that traverses the entire work span from hiring to retiring.
If embracing equity at work is important to you, what do you see working well in your workplace?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker, trainer and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is available for purchase
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.