As workplaces adapt to the long-term impact of COVID-19, the shift to remote environments and dynamics presents new opportunities for diversity and inclusivity. Recent examples of social and racial injustice have rocked the country, and business leaders must establish safe, welcoming environments for all employees—regardless of their backgrounds, ethnicities, or other demographics.
Even before the pandemic, 40% of people said they felt isolated at work. Now, encouraging communication and participation in virtual meetings is even more challenging, but as a leader, you can’t afford to take the easy way out. These meetings are prime places to cultivate diversity and inclusivity. Here are a few tips for making all employees feel valued, even when everyone is working from home:
Ask Genuine Questions
You cannot lead effectively without understanding what struggles your employees are facing. Take a moment to ask about their experiences, rather than assuming anything. Be honest about your own blind spots or ignorance and be humble in your commitment to growth. This will help you build more personal connections with your team members and show them they can come to you with their concerns.
Sometimes it’s hard to get people to speak up—especially those who think their opinions might not matter. Be intentional about asking everyone for their thoughts, not just the people who are loudest. You can get your staff involved in discussions by asking each person to answer the same question, calling on individual team members if they are hesitant to speak.
Celebrate Different Opinions
Leaders must prevent virtual meeting participants from defaulting to observer mode to ensure equal opportunity for contribution. Utilizing the power of your teams’ diverse perspectives will allow performance to be enhanced. One recent study found that a lack of diversity appreciation within a work environment lowered job performance—so it’s important to champion unique ideas.
Not every meeting has to be about work. It’s vital to create opportunities for virtual connection as a substitute for in-person interaction. Set up semi-regular virtual sessions dedicated to promoting camaraderie and team-building. To promote cultural inclusivity, celebrate employees’ various holidays and milestones.
Adopting inclusive practices not only raises up more effective leaders, but also elevates the strengths of workers and workplaces. Your customers care how you treat your employees—and research shows that treating your team well directly influences your reputation and your relationship with buyers. Promoting diversity within your organization will improve staff morale, increase productivity, and support lasting relationships with consumers.
Want more tips on building an inclusive work environment in a remote world? Download our eBook.