Is your team inclusive enough?

Inclusive Culture

Creating An Inclusive Culture

We don’t know what is going to happen in the market in the coming years, but we do know this: it will be disruptive. Whatever happens in 2020 with the election, tariffs, and the global economy, there is a good chance it will require extra effort on everyone’s part to adapt. Now is the time to make sure that your organization’s culture is inclusive to enable people to thrive, work together WELL, and give that extra discretionary effort when you need it. Now is the time to build resilience, because by the time you need it, it could be too late.

One area to take a careful inventory is to look at how ‘safe’ people are to really be themselves at work. Bob Kegan, Harvard Professor and author of An Everyone Culture, tells us that most employees are doing an entire “second job” managing image and trying to avoid negative perceptions at work. At a time when you may need more than 100% from your team, this is a distraction you simply cannot afford – and it’s costing billions we may not even know about.

Here’s one example (there will be another you’re not expecting in our next blog too):

Organizational resilience cannot be achieved without acknowledging (and frankly expanding) the difficult topic of the #MeToo movement. Men, stay with me – you’re in this one too.

#MeToo came into focus in 2018 when a few courageous women spoke up and started a trend of posting “#MeToo on social media to demonstrate how many women have been sexually victimized, harassed, or otherwise taken advantage of simply because they were women. Most were in entertainment, not-for-profits, and academia. The number of #MeToo stories has been astounding. Yet, even more shocking are the missing circles where they are still afraid to post their stories and corporate America is one of them.

Organizations will not be able to build the resilience required to sustain momentum if one group is marginalized, even occasionally, and another is indignant—or ignorant. This flies in the face of productive collaboration. 

The only solution that can possibly allow us to move past #MeToo will be a clear focus on “What’s Next” and how we can get there together

#MeToo Impacts Everyone

Many rejoiced when the shadows dimmed when women came out and formed a movement that said, “Enough is enough!” Many women still feel that corporate America has not done nearly enough to undo the damage and create a safe environment. But this dialog cannot move forward if it remains solely about women.

Because it happens to men, too. All the time. 

Stories of male abuse, at the hands of other men or by women, and some who have been falsely accused and labeled, continues to be an ongoing shame in our society. The problem is chronic and wide-spread. I know this because when I first wrote about #MeToo, men came out of the woodwork to tell me their stories too.

These kinds of incidents cause shame that undermines effectiveness. Shame is real. It is toxic. And it inhibits any attempt at building resilience, individually and on a corporate level for all genders

What’s Next

Sadly, abusive experiences and horrific stories are a part of life for many men and women. It is not our responsibility as leaders to fix the past, but it is our responsibility to acknowledge that everyone has a story and we cannot always know (or need to know) what that is. It is our responsibility to keep communication lines open and engage those people anyway. It is the work of a leader to create inclusive, engaging, and safe environments where people can to do their best work, do more with what they have, minimize the cost of distraction, and build the resilience required to optimize our resources. That is the only way we get to “What’s Next.”

The problem with talking about sexual harassment is that sexuality does not have a monopoly on harassment and neither do women. It is perhaps even less safe to discuss the men who have been abused, many of them as children. For them, the shame can often be even greater. Many men are not safe yet, as well as many women. That’s real. “What’s Next” cannot happen until they are. Until these intolerable issues of power are brought out in the open in a safe space, open to all ideologies and races, where judgment is absent and understanding and empathy are the norms, we will neither have safe workplaces nor resilient companies.

Harassment does not ignore any gender, race, or social class. And included in this dialogue must be a chance to move forward, intentionally building resilience in a way that unravels the tough issues, the ones that hinder personal and corporate potential. Intentionally calling out each other in a way that creates a constructive conversation is a must, one that drives learning for both sides and engages all of us in a future solidified by our resilience, not threatened by the internal politics that erode it. 

Using Power For Good

These kinds of experiences undermine trust and can destroy organizations. To thrive in the face of rapid, disruptive change, these situations cannot be tolerated. In the end, it comes down to an abuse of power which kills resilience every time.

Power can be used to intimidate or inspire. On its best and most adaptive day, power can be used to mobilize and engage people in dialogue that drives learning for all parties. It can be used to support a collaborative exchange of ideas and eliminates distractions caused by internal “politics” and the need for personal agendas. Anything that is not in support of that purpose is a lost opportunity to use power for its highest good. 

The best antidote is to create an environment conducive to talking, one dedicated to creating transparent conversations that create understanding and common ground. An environment that does not judge, but instead, seeks to engage and understand others. An environment that understands that good ideas can come from anyone and lets them flow unhindered.

Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment. That’s good for business; it raises productivity and propels profits.

Most important, it makes us and our teams resilient.  

If your team could use help building resilience to prepare for the coming disruption, whether it’s building a growth strategy, breaking down silos, increasing collaboration or ensuring that your environment allows everyone to thrive on the most disruptive day, call us. It’s what we do.

*This is an excerpt from Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back, a new book by Jennifer Eggers and Cynthia Barlow.