Your workplace should be a safe space for employees to feel supported and encouraged to be open and honest. It should be a place that they feel comfortable discussing experiences of bias and discrimination, a space where they know they will be listened to and appropriate action taken to rectify these issues. But how do you achieve this?
Check your privilege
"’Privilege’ refers to certain social advantages, benefits, or degrees of prestige and respect that an individual has by virtue of belonging to certain social identity groups.” You can have privilege based on several factors, including gender, race, socio-economic background and disability.
American sociologist Prof Michael Kimmel shared in The Guardian that “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” Building consciousness of the privilege you hold within your workforce is the first step to becoming an ally. Helping your employees to understand their privilege and how it can affect the way they are treated, the opportunities they have and the way they are perceived can help create a more open workplace.
But it can’t stop there. To create real change people must understand one another’s experiences and perspectives. An experience one person has regularly because of their social identity, may go unnoticed by someone else because they have not had that experience. Opening conversations around this can help to encourage employees to strike positive change and ensure unconscious bias and systematic discrimination doesn’t go unnoticed. Creating a truly safe space for growth, accountability and support.
Sopra Steria, a European Tech leader in consulting, digital services and software development is committed to becoming a fully inclusive workplace for everyone. Part of making this happen is ensuring its culture is respectful and supportive, a workplace where everyone is comfortable to be themselves, and to build a shared understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.
We worked with Sopra Steria to build upon their Zero Tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour and create a campaign we named ‘In My Shoes’. This was designed to help people learn about the experiences of others through sharing the real stories which had been experienced by employees across the business. We collected a total of 21 stories around race, LGBTQ+, gender and disability and turned them into animated videos and illustrated assets that were shared across Sopra Steria’s intranet and contributed towards their networks and conversations around ED&I.
In My Shoes was a key part of bringing the Company’s values of empathy and respect to life and offers a framework for building a culture where people can learn from each other to create an inclusive workplace.
When you make conscious efforts to spread awareness, create conversations and build a supportive and open culture within your business you can help bridge biases and tackle discrimination which ultimately helps to improve the future of the workplace. Instead of talking about the barriers let’s make the efforts to dismantle them ourselves.