Learn to Build a Culture of Inclusivity: 7 Real Tips from Real Talent Practitioners

OPEN 2018 Roadshow wrapped its 2018 tour in San Francisco, bringing Greenhouse’s 1-day immersive hiring event to the Bay Area. The art gallery-turned Talent hub was buzzing with inspiring conversations about how we can all be better recruiters, smarter leaders, and more understanding people.

One of the most riveting sessions was led by Culture Amp’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Steven Huang, and Greenhouse’s Head of People, Cheryl Roubian. Their workshop, Build & Maintain a Culture of Inclusion, prompted an open discussion about common recruiting and inclusion challenges that companies face. Groups in the workshop were tasked with solving real challenges and creating actionable next steps to take back to their organizations. We’re bringing you their insights here so you can learn to take the proper steps toward building an honest culture of inclusivity at your organization.

Let’s get real.

Real tip #1: “Invest in a tool to track sentiment around inclusivity so you know where you’re at and how to move forward.”

Is your company allowing people to bring their whole selves to work? Even if you feel that your organization is working toward an inclusive environment, without some kind of democratic view on company sentiment, you’re probably only hearing the loudest voices. One workshop group at OPEN Roadshow mentioned the importance of investing in a tool that will allow you to quantitatively measure sentiment around inclusion. Feedback mechanisms like Culture Amp’s inclusion survey will help give you an understanding of how your initiatives are going, and a picture of overall employee sentiment as well as sentiment across demographic groups. You may be surprised at your results. Once you’ve benchmarked where your culture stands and where there are differences in experience across groups of employes, you can work towards investing in and improving it.

Real tip #2: “Improve diversity recruiting efforts through intentional sourcing.”

If you feel you’re just not seeing underrepresented groups apply to your roles, you might want to zoom out and reassess your sourcing strategy. One Roadshow group recommended posting open roles on sites where underrepresented groups are present and active such as Vet Jobs, Campus Pride or Diversity Jobs and engaging with colleges and universities with more diverse student bases.

Roadshow attendee pro-tip: “Don’t just show up on career day with flyers. Cultivate relationships with these organizations so your company will always be top of mind.”

Real tip #3: “Reduce bias in your hiring process by increasing awareness and making small, deliberate changes in behavior.”

It’s almost cliché to hear about hiring managers who prefer candidates from a particular college or company. On the surface, it might seem like they’re leveraging a known entity (e.g., an Ivy League school or a prestigious firm) as a proxy for experience or skill. These kinds of preferences often mask bias and can hinder diversity recruiting. One group of attendees recommended starting by educating executives and hiring managers on the negative effects of biased hiring. Implementing tools or practices to nudge behaviors and creating habits like anonymizing applicant information on resumes, or blind-grading take home tests can also help mitigate bias.

Real tip #4. “Make company-wide behavior changes, such as using inclusive language, to improve a sense of belonging for minority employees.”

You can help improve feelings of belonging through small behavior changes - starting with language. Incorporating more neutral language into company communications and policies can help position your organization as an ally to minority communities. For example, you can use gender-neutral language in policies and communications around parental leave - e.g., “Parental leave” instead of “Paternity leave” or “Maternity leave.”

Roadshow attendee pro-tip: “Send out a Slack message or email about the language shift with a nod to its importance. You can position the behavior change as a positive company-wide uplift that will make everyone a better communicator.”

Real tip #5: “Allow all voices to be heard in meetings by providing an agenda beforehand and create the space for everyone to speak.”

It’s no secret that sometimes the loudest person in the room has the most say (and sway). Distributing an agenda and meeting materials in advance can allow employees to process what they’d like to discuss before the meeting even starts. This can be helpful for more introverted employees, or for those who speak English as a second language.

As we’re moving toward a more technological future, don’t forget about remote employees. Make sure that you have the right technology that will provide the best alternative to meeting in person, like Zoom. This may seem silly and obvious, but be sure to ask remote workers if their sound is working properly or if they have questions. It’s never fun being the only one on the other end of the line with your face on the large screen looking confused.

Real tip #6: “Create inclusion groups or task forces with representatives from every part of the company and an executive sponsor.”

A grassroots effort with an executive sponsor is a pretty magical combination. It means a diversity of voices gets heard by someone in a position to make a change. The idea behind giving “a seat at the table” isn’t just an ode to Solange’s lyrically genius album. It provides minorities an opportunity to pull up a chair and share truths that leadership may not be aware of. At Greenhouse, we have an Inclusion Task Force, sponsored by one of our co-founders, that spearheads initiatives and rallies the whole company to engage in and think about inclusion at Greenhouse.

Real tip #7: “Over-communicate your D&I goals and your progress to the organization.”

Be loud and be proud. Once you assess your organization’s state of inclusion and create goals for where you’d like it to be, let it be known. Articulate the positive business implications and benefits of an inclusive environment, then bring up initiatives at team meetings and keep people updated. This allows you to inspire the entire organization to be bought into its importance.

Change won’t happen overnight, but taking small actionable steps will lead us in the right direction. As Steven Huang mentioned, “It’s so important to be radically inclusive. It’s become obvious that workplace D&I impacts the bottom line, but a place of inclusion and belonging is a future we want to live in.”

Check out our eBook, 3 Diversity Recruiting Strategies with Lyft to learn how to optimize your interview process for D&I through structured hiring.

Micah G

Micah is the Content & Community Manager at Greenhouse. She was previously an Engagement Strategist at VICE where she worked on consumer brands ranging from ice cream to TV shows. When she's not in the office, she enjoys green parks and NYC rooftops. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on our Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Diversity & Inclusion