Is building a more equitable workplace one of your organization’s goals for 2022? If so, it’s time to stop saying ‘this is how we’ve always done things’, and eliminate old-fashioned ways of operating that drive inequity.
These practices often go unnoticed, but they can significantly reduce productivity and employee happiness. As you can imagine, this can affect your culture, churn rate, and revenue.
To build a truly equitable workplace, you need to listen to what employees want, even if it’s something you’d never considered before.
Are you overlooking these common workplace practices that defeat efforts to increase equity?
Hiring practices can reveal bias in all sorts of ways.
Recruiters and talent acquisition managers often use artificial intelligence programs to filter candidates before a human reviews the applications. These AI assistants can learn the prejudices of both programmers and end users, which can prevent the best people from getting past even the first step.
Traditional hiring practices also often aren’t as suitable for neurodiverse or disabled candidates.
Long days can be draining for applicants with chronic health issues, meaning they’re less able to perform to their full ability.
Some neurodivergent applicants may struggle with the standard interview structure, too. For instance, they may not make as much eye contact as someone else.
Neither of these things mean someone would be bad at a job. It only means that they’re being required to fit themselves into an ableist, neurotypical hiring process.
Many businesses, such as Microsoft, have taken to adapting their hiring processes to attract more neurodiverse talent. Could you do something similar?
Quotas are a controversial one. Many believe that they don’t work and are just a superficial measure.
But actually, a study by the London School of Economics found that quotas prevented less qualified men from getting hired. More qualified female candidates were hired in their place.
Interestingly, more competent female candidates raised the number of competent men by 3%.
Maybe quotas aren’t so bad after all.
A few years ago, I remember there being some buzz about how women needed to put themselves forward more for job roles and pay raises. Why weren’t we doing it? We needed to be more aggressive and confident in our abilities!
But is that really the problem?
People often see aggression and confidence as more masculine traits. Using words like aggressive in job descriptions can put females, trans, and non-binary folks off applying for roles, because many of us don’t use words like that to describe ourselves. And society encourages us not to.
Men are also more likely to overestimate their abilities. This means they’ll apply for a job even if they aren’t fully qualified.
Women, on the other hand, estimate their abilities just right.
Despite this, men are the ones who submit themselves for promotions and request pay raises more often.
Women are generally more compassionate and introverted when it comes to their roles. They’re less likely to put themselves forward for promotions when they come up, even if they deserve it. Which means they miss out.
Is there something you could do to make the playing field more even in pursuit of a more equitable workplace?
Could you have colleagues nominate someone who’s worthy of a pay raise or promotion? That way, you have an understanding of why someone is deserving, and you have evidence to prove it, rather than going based on how they come across in an interview.
If your employees still work in an office building, how accessible is it? Are there lots of stairs?
If there are, do employees have access to an elevator?
If that elevator is out of order, what solutions do you have in place for employees with health issues like chronic pain, asthma, or other conditions which make lots of stairs, or particularly steep stairs, a challenge?
Someone’s ability to climb stairs shouldn’t prevent them from doing their job, particularly if that job involves sitting at a desk all day.
Nor should getting to their desk exacerbate chronic health issues or cause them to need to take their relief inhaler.
The main thing that can help with this is allowing employees to work from home when their accessibility needs aren’t met in the office.
If that isn’t an option, and you own several floors, could you move their desk to a lower floor? Or could you get the elevator fixed as a priority?
The standard office temperature is based on an average forty-year-old, 150-lb white man from the 1960s. Which means it doesn’t consider any other gender, or people of color.
And, since there are many, many factors that can affect our metabolisms, that basic office temperature is an oversimplified solution.
You can’t please everyone. But can you find a compromise?
Women need temperatures around five degrees warmer than men for doing office work.
Sitting under an air conditioner with a constant draft can make things feel even colder, and even worsen injuries.
Could you move employees who feel cold further away from an air conditioning unit?
Or could you change the settings on it so that it’s still filtering the air, but not pushing out such a strong draft?
Simple changes like these can make employees more productive and mean they’re not walking around feeling like they’re dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man every day.
These are just some of the overlooked practices that can prevent you from creating a truly equitable workplace. But hopefully they’ve given you some ideas of where to start.
What really matters is that you keep an open mind and remember that just because it’s the way something has always been done, that doesn’t mean it’s the fairest or most efficient way of doing it.
Change is an important part of running any business. Leaders should embrace changes that create a more equitable workplace just the same as changes to save costs and make more money. Why? Because these simple changes improve workplace conditions, make employees happier, and ultimately, mean businesses can make more money.
If you’re searching for other ways to build a more equitable workplace, consider implementing a platform like Workrowd. Our user-friendly suite of tools provides everyone full access and transparency to all employee programs, no matter where or when they work. Ensure everyone can get involved in your company culture, and build connections across teams. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more today.