Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

3 ways to better support family caregivers right now

Do you know which of your employees are family caregivers? Statistically speaking, the majority of them likely are, although fewer than half of employers track this data. Researchers at Harvard Business School found that 73% of U.S. employees are caring for a child, parent, and/or friend. With the novel coronavirus forcing drastic changes to what caretaking requires, and pushing even more people into the caregiver category as their loved ones struggle to recover from COVID-19, it’s crucial that employers recognize the additional strain this can place on employees.

In the same HBS study referenced above, more than 80% of caregivers surveyed admitted that their caregiving responsibilities affected their productivity. Accordingly, beyond just being the right thing to do, taking steps to better support employee caregivers has a strong business case. While some employees may be hesitant to share details about their caregiving relationships at work, it’s important nonetheless that companies put structures and benefits in place to ensure employees can succeed no matter what they may be dealing with in their personal lives.

Considerations when designing a program to support employee caregivers

As mentioned above, the first items to take into account when determining how to support employees who are family caregivers are privacy and equity. Employees should not feel obligated to disclose their caregiving roles, nor should they have to question whether being a caregiver will potentially be used against them in deciding who will receive challenging assignments, promotions, pay raises, etc. While it can be useful to understand exactly which employees are caring for a child, relative, or friend, it’s more important to ensure that all your workers are aware of your company’s available accommodations as anyone’s caregiving status can change at any moment. Accordingly, focus on education and transparency more so than identifying your employees with caregiving responsibilities directly.

As part of your education efforts, it’s also important to ensure that employees know that your company both supports and respects employee caregivers. Build awareness about the challenges that family caregivers face, and how your company helps employees address them. Make sure that your sensitivity training for managers includes content on caregiving so that they can best meet the needs of their team members.

Lastly, don’t forget to factor caregiving into your benefits programs. If you can offer daycare and/or related subsidies, flexible work hours and remote work, and healthcare plans that are inclusive of a variety of family structures to ensure your workers can access coverage for those who need it, it will go a long way towards making your workplace friendly and welcoming to employee caregivers. Don’t forget to ensure that all your employees are aware of the full extent of the benefits you provide!

Recommendations for building inclusion for caregivers in your workplace

While the considerations listed above are crucial to form the basis of your program, these efforts will fall flat if your caregiving employees don’t feel welcomed and included within your workplace. There are a number of approaches you can take to building belonging for these team members, but we’ve listed our favorites below:

  • Connect employees with resources. Beyond offering specific benefits to support caregivers as mentioned above, and especially if that’s not achievable within your budget, simply providing a list of relevant resources can be helpful. Assemble information about the services and supports that are available to different types of caregivers, whether they’re responsible for an elderly relative, have young children, or are the guardian for an adult who is ill and/or disabled. Host these repositories somewhere easily accessible, and remind employees of their existence as needed.
  • Make your events inclusive and accessible. Obviously a lot has changed since the pandemic hit, but if all of your employee events are being held outside of work hours, they’re likely excluding folx whose personal lives include caregiving. Take people’s non-work commitments into account when you’re planning initiatives, opting for lunch and/or workday times rather than nights or weekends. If you do schedule programming during off hours, try to make it family-friendly, so people can bring their children/relatives rather than having to simply skip it.
  • Create a caregiver employee resource group. Caregiving can be extremely isolating and emotionally taxing. By connecting employees with their colleagues who are facing the same struggles, companies can build their employer brand at the same time they’re making something very difficult for their employees a bit easier. Through this group, employees can share recommendations of care providers, exchange supplies (e.g. passing on gently used children’s toys), and commiserate.

How are your employee caregivers doing today? Do you know? If not, the first step is to check in with them, then take steps to address their needs accordingly. If you’re looking for an easy way to aggregate resources for certain groups of workers, connect employees with shared experiences, stand up employee resource groups, and/or easily monitor employee engagement and wellbeing, Workrowd is here for you. Contact us at to see how we can help you better support employee caregivers and make your entire workplace more inclusive.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Building connections within an intergenerational workforce

For more than a decade, a favorite trope of news outlets has been the war between the generations in the workplace. As Millennials began to enter offices, article after article appeared on how ‘Generation Me’ was going to create widespread strife with their need for constant feedback and praise, their obsession with technology, and more. These attitudes and habits, the reporters alleged, would put them completely at odds with their Boomer supervisors.

As we’ve seen, Millennials have deeply impacted their workplaces, but not necessarily at a faster rate than any other generation, and certainly not in a way that’s out of sync with the broader societal forces acting on their companies. Ultimately, having an intergenerational workforce can be of great benefit if it is effectively leveraged. We’ve assembled some suggestions below to help you make the most of the age diversity present in many U.S. workplaces today.

An unprecedented five generations working side-by-side

For the first time in history, there are now five generations active in the U.S. workforce. While there is some dispute as to the actual dates that comprise each generation, the groups are as follows:

  • Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Generation Y/Millennials (1981-1996)
  • Generation Z (1997-2012)

The oldest members of Generation Z are now 23, meaning that some of them have been in the workforce for 5+ years at this point. Meanwhile, the youngest members of the Silent Generation are only 75. These 75+ workers comprise between 5-10% of every state’s workforce, while countrywide, their proportion is expected to exceed 10% within a few years. With more than 50 years’ difference between the lived experiences of these two cohorts, there are bound to be some disagreements and misunderstandings. However, just as with other types of diversity, having such a range of perspectives can also be a great asset to your business.

Strategies for enabling employees of all ages to succeed

Despite their superficial differences, regardless of age or generation, many employees ultimately want a lot of the same things out of their work experience. These include opportunities for learning and growth, camaraderie and community, and to feel valued and respected. Luckily, a number of these can be achieved through the same and/or overlapping initiatives. Below are some ideas for helping employees to bridge the generational divide and drive your organization forward.

  • Provide everyone with streamlined, user-friendly tools. In order to mitigate any issues stemming from varying levels of tech-savvy, design your employee experience with a focus on easy-to-use tools that make everyone feel empowered and fully able to contribute. Particularly with your communications systems, provide clear training to all employees so that no one is at a disadvantage in conversations and meetings due to challenges with technology. While this is applicable to facilitating inclusion across all demographics, it is particularly relevant for an intergenerational workforce as younger people are often more comfortable adapting to new technologies more quickly than older populations. Putting everyone on an even playing field will minimize opportunities for frustration across age gaps.
  • Develop a two-way intergenerational mentoring program. Young people have a lot to learn from their older peers in the workplace, but this sentiment holds true in the opposite direction as well. There is a lot that younger people can teach their colleagues from other generations, and that should be acknowledged and capitalized upon. Establish an intergenerational mentoring program where the exchange of information flows both ways. More seasoned employees should be encouraged to be open to the input and ideas of younger coworkers, and new professionals should be urged to be receptive to the wealth of knowledge that older peers have amassed over the course of their careers. Provide conversation and activity guides to help your pairings make the most of their relationship, and consider holding innovation events such as hackathons to help them put their combined knowledge to optimal use.
  • Start an intergenerational employee resource group. While most frequently focused on race and ethnicity, employee resource groups can also be a useful tool for building productive connections in an intergenerational workforce. Historically, age-based employee resource groups have typically focused on one specific demographic, e.g. young professionals. Ultimately however, companies would likely benefit more from creating opportunities for what is effectively a group-based version of the mentoring program outlined above. By creating a space that’s not explicitly focused on work in which team members from different generations can interact and team up, companies can finally combine and leverage all of the knowledge and skills within their workforce into more than the sum of their parts.

Having an intergenerational workforce can be either a blessing or a curse. For those organizations that operate in opposition to it and pit older and younger workers against one another, they will find that the antagonistic relationship between employees of different age groups can become a significant drag on productivity, engagement, and more. For organizations that view it as an asset however, and seek to build productive relationships between employees of various ages, they may very well find themselves on the forefront of innovation and broader success.

If you’re looking for a straightforward way to seize upon all three of the strategies listed above, check out Workrowd’s platform. We can help you set up and manage mentoring programs and employee resource groups, all while centralizing and streamlining employee communications. You can reach us at

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Disability accommodations in the age of COVID-19

According to the CDC, 61 million U.S. adults live with a disability; that’s more than a quarter of the population (26%). The word ‘disability’ spans a wide range of physical and mental challenges across mobility, cognition, mental health, hearing, vision, and more. Some disabilities are readily visible upon meeting a person, but many are not. As businesses struggle to reopen responsibly amid the ongoing pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your employees with disabilities are supported. Read on for some tips to understand and equip your people with any disability accommodations they may need to remain safe from infection.

Many disabilities increase the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms

For a variety of reasons, your employees with disabilities may be at increased risk of harm from COVID-19. In terms of physical health, adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. A study released in June found that patients with these and other underlying conditions who contracted the coronavirus were six times more likely to be hospitalized and twelve times more likely to die from it than peers without these compounding issues. Accordingly, while every employee should be maximally protected from COVID-19, employers should take extra care to prevent exposure risks among their employees with disabilities, in order to minimize the potential for dire outcomes.

Similarly, mental health disorders can be deeply exacerbated by the conditions the pandemic has created. Many people without a clinically diagnosable mental health condition are experiencing crippling levels of anxiety and depression from social isolation, financial hardship, and the loss of loved ones from this virus. Simply reading the news on a daily basis is enough to destabilize a person’s mental health.

As we wrote about here, mental illnesses and disorders can deal a crushing blow to metrics like productivity and engagement in the workplace. In fact, depression and anxiety conditions alone are estimated to cost the world economy $1 trillion per year. People with cognitive disabilities are also at increased risk of mental health problems, making it even more imperative that they have resources at their disposal to support themselves during these challenging times, as well as disability accommodations to keep them safe and healthy.

Steps to keep employees with disabilities safe from infection

The first step to protecting employees, whether or not they have a disability, is of course to follow all evidence-based recommendations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Facilitate social distancing, require mask wearing, limit use of common spaces and appliances, and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Make all signage clear and accessible, using high-contrast, large font and placing it at heights that are visible to those in wheelchairs. Ask employees for suggestions of how to make the workplace even safer, and implement those ideas where possible. Communicate your policies early and often, and require strict adherence in order to prevent situations where employees may feel at risk of exposure or peer-pressured to violate rules.

Another important step is to offer opportunities for employees to request individual accommodations to your policies. Being mindful of privacy guidelines, ask which employees have special circumstances, from having a disability themselves, to having someone in their household who is disabled, to ensure they have an open invitation to voice their needs. Seek to truly listen and understand their situation, so you can be positioned to best help them. Objectively assess their level of risk, whether or not their job is essential and if it can be done with limited in-office time, as well as what disability accommodations you can reasonably grant. Lastly, ensure that whatever decision you ultimately make is in compliance with all regulations, particularly those around EEOC and ADA.

Communicate the outcome of any deliberations clearly and compassionately to your employees. In instances where you were unable to grant accommodation requests, explaining why will go a long way towards ensuring that individual does not feel slighted or unduly denied. As circumstances evolve, encourage an open-door policy around accommodation requests and continue to remain aware of employees’ situations and health in order to provide the best employee experience possible despite the less than ideal circumstances.

Supporting employees with varied and changing needs during the global pandemic isn’t easy. Make it easier by talking to your employees and being transparent with your processes. Consider starting a disability employee resource group to help your team members who may be struggling, including those who may be new to disability as a result of COVID-19 complications. If you could use a tool to assist you in standing up an ERG, providing additional employee support, and streamlining your communications around pandemic safety, check out Workrowd. We can help you help your employees, and measure the results through automated surveys and reports.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Designing your inclusion strategy for the long-term

The recent outcry against systemic racism prompted many companies to scramble to schedule unconscious bias trainings and other one-off initiatives. While in theory this response was better than continuing to turn a blind eye, the centuries-long oppression of BIPOC in this country will not be resolved with a two-hour workplace training. Now that the urgency of the moment has passed for many people who are not directly impacted by this struggle every day, we cannot simply go back to business as usual.

Building truly inclusive workplaces neither starts nor ends with making people aware of their biases; it requires a continuous effort to educate, support, and empower employees, with particular attention towards uplifting those from historically marginalized backgrounds. Most companies don’t currently have a framework for cultivating inclusion on an ongoing basis. Up until recently, executing on an inclusion strategy wasn’t something businesses paid attention to, and when they did, it was rarely addressed from an empirical standpoint. We know now however, that both diversity and inclusion have far-reaching impacts on business outcomes, making it essential for companies to begin prioritizing them. Read on for some ideas on how to design your inclusion strategy to help your company succeed long into the future.

Recognize that inclusion affects all areas of your business

As the twelve-step saying goes, ‘the first step is admitting you have a problem’. While it’s easy to think that inclusion can just occur organically under the right conditions, the fact is that most people aren’t naturally inclined towards inclusion. Most features of American society, in fact, are oriented around exclusion. Think about how we glorify being invited to ‘exclusive’ clubs and events, or buying luxury items that are in limited supply. The traditional idea of romantic relationships is founded upon exclusivity, and we even see children from very young ages assembling into friend groups frequently to the exclusion of others. We’re not taught to value inclusion, nor trained in how to be inclusive, so why would our workplaces naturally trend towards inclusiveness?

Ironically, while inclusion is not the norm for most people or workplaces, failing to cultivate it can result in deeply negative business outcomes. Exclusion impacts your retention rate, your employer brand, employee productivity and engagement, and more. Recognizing that investing in inclusion will deliver a significant return on investment similar to other business requirements, such as marketing and sales, is a necessary reframe before starting to design an inclusion strategy that can drive measurable impact over the long-term.

Bring in an expert (and pay them!)

Once you’ve shifted your perception to recognize that inclusion is just as important to your business success as other key performance indicators, it’s time to bring in rockstar strategists and executors to help your company succeed just as you would across any other area of the organization. If you were building a new product you wouldn’t hesitate to engage relevant subject matter experts, and the same goes for inclusion. Ideally, it’s advisable to bring on at least one full-time employee to orchestrate your inclusion planning and implementation, but for smaller companies, starting out with a consultant may be your best bet. Do what’s right for you but don’t downplay the need for expertise in this arena.

Moreover, if increasing inclusion is going to improve your bottom line, you shouldn’t hesitate to pay for the expertise you need. Many diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging professionals have noted in recent months that people have tried to engage them or gain access to their resources for free.  There are few other industries that see such egregious disrespect of their time and experience, so treat inclusion specialists the same as you would treat any other consultant or new hire. Give them the tools to succeed, trust their knowledge and ability, and pay them for their work.

Stay on it

Building inclusion is not something that can be checked off a to-do list or crossed off on your roadmap. Similar to any skill, it requires ongoing practice and commitment to be successful. Everyone in your organization must strive to practice inclusion at all times, on every project, and with every colleague. In order to root out the insidious processes that preclude equity in our workplaces, inclusion must be made a company value and be infused throughout all aspects of the day-to-day operations.

At Workrowd, we’ve been working hard to walk the talk from day one, and we still regularly step back to take inventory and improve our processes to be more inclusive. If we can help you on your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out. We strive to make the process of building inclusion easier and more data-driven, and we’d love to have you join the movement. You can always reach us at

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Metrics for measuring inclusion & belonging

As a followup to last week’s post about measuring inclusion, we wanted to dive a bit deeper into some important metrics you should consider tracking to build a more welcoming and supportive workplace for all employees. Inclusion, belonging and even engagement can seem like nebulous and tricky concepts to measure, but as the saying goes, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’. The reverse is certainly true, so if we want to see legitimate progress on inclusion in our workplaces, we have to start by assessing where we are today, and setting concrete, measurable goals for where we want to go.

We’re going to focus on four key metrics in this post, but keep in mind that these may or may not be the right indicators for your organization. While the items below are pretty broad-based measures that should apply across most industries, a truly successful approach to inclusion and belonging will always be tailored specifically to your company. As we covered in our post last week, the best first step you can take towards making your company more inclusive is to talk to your employees. Armed with their input, consider tracking some version of the categories below to ensure your program is driving impact.


Engagement is a critical measure that many companies already assess via annual or bi-annual surveys, as it has far-reaching effects on productivity and revenue. Ultimately though, if you’re not digging sufficiently into your data to determine how engagement varies across demographic groups, you’re missing 90% of the picture. Feeling included is a big factor in engagement, so while there are a number of reasons why engagement might vary, if you’re finding that underrepresented folx have significantly lower scores, exclusionary experiences may be partially to blame.


A significant piece of the puzzle as to why we haven’t been able to move the needle on building more diverse organizations is that while companies have made efforts to diversify their hires, many folx from underrepresented groups elect not to stay after coming onboard. If you examine your retention data and find that you’re losing folx from underrepresented groups at a higher rate than their peers with more prevalent identities, focus on designing your exit interviews to truly find out why. Odds are, exclusion and discrimination are contributors.


Employee happiness is often viewed as unscientific, but the numbers don’t lie: ” One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%.” Measuring employee happiness as part of regular surveying efforts can help expose which segments of your workforce may be struggling with exclusion.

Inclusion & Belonging

Last but certainly not least, you can actually measure inclusion and belonging directly. Ask your employees to rate how strongly they agree with statements such as:

  • I feel like I belong at my company.
  • Perspectives like mine are included in decision-making.
  • I can voice honest feedback and be taken seriously without fear of backlash.

Do this regularly and monitor how changes to your programming correlate with changes to employee responses. As with the other metrics, be sure that you’re segmenting the data in order to surface all of the insights from different groups within your company.

Inclusion can be a difficult thing to influence, especially when your company may not have actively paid attention to it in the past. It can help to have a proven partner to align and guide your process. Workrowd automates ongoing surveys while also providing tailored recommendations and programming support to help you launch initiatives that actually drive change within your organization. If you’d like more information on the content of this post, or about Workrowd, reach out to us at

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Quick tips for measuring diversity and inclusion

As the current uprising against systemic racism in America continues to unfold, many companies find themselves either questioning how to proceed, or questioning how to deliver on new commitments to diversity and inclusion. All of this questioning is justified; unlearning and undoing centuries of oppression is complex and difficult work, albeit urgently needed. Some companies have a dedicated staff member(s) to work on parsing through these deep challenges, while others have largely foisted this onto the plate of HR teams that are already stretched thin with adapting to COVID-19 on top of their typical workloads. Particularly for those in the second bucket, we wanted to share some of what we’ve learned about managing and measuring diversity and inclusion to help jumpstart your progress.

The first step for those just starting out is to ensure you fully understand the difference between diversity and inclusion. While often paired together, they are distinct issues that must be addressed separately. Diversity refers to the composition of your workforce. Companies today measure diversity by tracking the number of employees who identify as members of various demographic groups based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc. There is a trend in the tech community of reporting these numbers publicly each year, and tellingly, there hasn’t been much change over the period since this practice began. That is the danger of focusing on diversity without putting in as much if not more effort to foster true inclusion. While workplaces can be inclusive without being diverse, it is the rare organization that can retain a diverse workforce without a strong commitment to inclusion. It’s crucial to ensure that your company is measuring both diversity and inclusion, individually.

Once an organization has committed to going beyond simply counting workers who meet predefined demographic criteria, the next step is to establish a baseline for how employees experience inclusion at the company. While out-of-the-box surveys can give you a sense, if you really want to understand how your company is doing today, it’s imperative that you speak with employees. Hold focus groups to learn about employees’ experiences, collect feedback from your employee resource groups, find out what sorts of exclusionary experiences your people are having so that you know what questions to ask when you put out the call to the larger group. If you don’t assemble your survey with an eye towards what your employees actually experience on a daily basis, you won’t get a complete picture from the data. Distribute the questions you assemble to all employees, and consider offering a raffle or other prize opportunity in order to maximize your response rate.

Now that your employees have completed the survey, it’s time to analyze the data with a focus on intersectionality. Just examining the data at face value may show you that one group experiences more exclusionary incidents than others, but all of the detail within each group will be lost. This will drastically reduce the effectiveness of any intervention you design in response. For instance, while women overall score one way, and Black employees score another, what is the experience like in your workplace for Black women, and how is that impacting your retention rate? Your results may initially indicate that LGBTQ+ employees feel included, but without cutting into the data, you might miss that your workplace in fact feels deeply exclusionary to trans folx. In order to actually make progress on inclusion, you have to stop looking at team members as checkboxes and begin focusing on whole people with many diverse identities and experiences.

Once you have your inclusion snapshot, it’s time to devise a strategy to improve your scores. Odds are strong that your employees are going to report varying levels of inclusion, so you have to be prepared to potentially face some difficult facts. After determining your course of action, you’ll similarly need a plan to measure your progress. Many companies have taken to conducting point-in-time engagement surveys every year or every two years. If you truly want to change the inclusion landscape within your organization, a much more agile process needs to be in place with check-in surveys delivering data at least once per quarter. Armed with these updates, organizations can shift their programming accordingly in order to maximize results.

We know this is a lot to manage, so consider leveraging technology as a resource to help you reach your goals. There is a growing market of inclusion software providers, from bots that will monitor Slack for exclusionary language to platforms like ours here at Workrowd, designed to streamline the surveying process, make data-based recommendations for policy and programming changes, and which offers template initiatives to help shorten your time-to-launch for new inclusion efforts. We hope this article helps as you look towards building a more inclusive workplace for all employees, where you’re measuring not just diversity but also inclusion. As always, if you’d like to learn more you can visit us at or reach out directly at

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Cultivating safety & inclusion for LGBTQIA+ employees

Happy (belated) Pride month! Given that up until last week more than half of U.S. states provided no official employment protection for workers on the basis of LGBTQIA+ identity, it’s critical that we follow that victory with concrete steps towards making our workplaces truly inclusive for all employees. There are so many different identities and lived experiences within this community though; how do you ensure you’re supporting and meeting everyone’s needs? We’ve outlined some of the issues you should consider in this post.

The fight for LGBTQIA+ rights has been advanced by leaps and bounds in recent decades, from the long but ultimately victorious fight for marriage equality to the aforementioned Supreme Court decision that finally afforded LGBTQIA+ employees equal protection under the law. While these are undoubtedly extremely important steps, there is still a great deal of work to be done. The current administration has rolled back a number of protections and rights for transgender people, and as of 2019, 16 states still had anti-sodomy laws on the books.

While there are obviously still a number of structural barriers preventing equal access and opportunity for LGBTQIA+ folx, there is nothing preventing most companies from building a more inclusive environment and championing LGBTQIA+ employees. In order to do so, organizations must consciously build LGBTQIA+ inclusion into all aspects of the business across policy, training, and culture. From adding preferred pronouns to email signatures and company profiles, to allocating resources towards increasing the number of LGBTQIA+ hires, there are myriad ways to advance inclusion and improve the workplace for folx who identify with this community.

On the policy front, one of the key steps you can take is to articulate clear guidelines around harassment and discrimination specific to LGBTQIA+ folx. While a blanket policy might be sufficient to meet the needs of many of your employees, in the absence of LGBTQIA+-specific guidelines, it can be easy for valid claims to be disputed and for these employees to be denied the support and protection a truly inclusive workplace should provide. Be explicit about what anti-LGBTQIA+ behaviors, language, etc. will not be tolerated, and provide well-defined processes for employees to lodge a complaint. It should go without saying, but it is imperative that you then follow up on complaints swiftly, transparently, and with the discretion required to respect the harmed employees’ wishes.

Another key step towards making your workplace more inclusive and welcoming for LGBTQIA+ folx is to ensure that your benefits package includes programs and services tailored to LGBTQIA+ lifestyles. Offering healthcare that provides choice of physicians, mental health services, transition support, etc. is imperative if you want to back up your words with action. Family planning and reproductive care should be inclusive of all gender identities and family structures, and life insurance must account for the same. If you’re unsure of whether your current benefits package is meeting the needs of your LGBTQIA+ employees, simply ask them. Invite them to identify gaps in your benefits plan, then take steps to fill them. More so than changing your company logo to feature a rainbow theme during Pride Month, ensuring that your LGBTQIA+ employees are safe and healthy will truly contribute towards building a more inclusive workplace.

In addition to policy changes, your culture must also be supportive of LGBTQIA+ team members. Offer opportunities for employees to learn about the many identities and individuals who comprise this community. Ensure that everyone knows that LGBTQIA+ discrimination will not be tolerated. Highlight the many talents and successes of your LGBTQIA+ employees through employee spotlights on your website, or panel events where they can share their experiences. Implement targeted LGBTQIA+ hiring initiatives to increase representation within your company. Identify LGBTQIA+ professional organizations and nonprofits in your city and support them whether through donations, volunteering, promotion, or other means. Create an employee resource group to build awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues within your organization and provide a space for employees who identify with this community to connect and collaborate.

No matter what you do, start by listening and learning. Make sure you understand the challenges that LGBTQIA+ employees face at your company and in the workplace in general so that you can respond in a way that is sensitive, supportive, and effective. If you’d like a partner as you strive to build a more inclusive workplace, don’t hesitate to give us a shout at Whether it’s help with standing up an LGBTQIA+ employee resource group, or connecting you to consultants who can assist with other needs, Workrowd is here to help ensure that every organization can work towards greater inclusion for all employees in a way that’s both compassionate and data-driven. Let us know how we can support.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Transforming how we practice workplace inclusion

For the first time ever, almost all of the books on the New York Times bestseller list are focused on race in America. In contrast to previous incidents of widely publicized police murders of Black people, increasing numbers of White folks are taking this moment to educate themselves on the far-reaching impacts of racism within our society. Not only is this exciting from a social progress and civil rights perspective, but this is also a crucial opportunity to overhaul the way we approach workplace inclusion.

Traditional diversity and inclusion efforts have primarily focused on two types of interventions: 1. One-off trainings e.g. unconscious bias, being an inclusive manager; and 2. Diversity-focused hiring initiatives. To date, neither of these have yielded much progress. Information presented in trainings is rarely integrated into the company’s daily processes, and more often than not these sessions simply allow organizations to check a box that they made some level of effort. On the hiring front, employees who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) continue to leave organizations at two times the rate of their non-BIPOC leaving company demographics largely unchanged.

Much of this excess turnover is due to non-inclusive cultures that fail to support underrepresented employees. As discussed in our previous post, the overwhelming majority of BIPOC employees are subjected to daily micro and macroaggressions that prevent them from feeling included and in many cases even welcome in their organizations. From discriminatory remarks in casual conversation to being repeatedly passed over for promotions, the daily strain takes a real toll.

Once-a-year trainings and diversity-focused hiring cannot solve the problem of workplace inclusion when the problem is internal company cultures. With more people finally opening their eyes to the ways that racism and exclusion are perpetuated through systemic means as well as through their own words and deeds, we might finally be able to move the needle on the way BIPOC employees experience work in America. In order to do so however, we have to change the way that we conceptualize and operationalize inclusion.

Per diversity advocate Vernā Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” While some have argued that this is too passive a comparison, as employees should not have to wait to be asked to join in by their employer, the point is that bringing diverse employees to the table is just the first step. We must stop tokenizing people just to improve diversity numbers, because the benefits of changing those numbers come from those employees being able to exercise their full array of gifts to advance the organization on a daily basis. Workplace inclusion is an ongoing practice that requires education, empathy, and evangelism from every employee. The whole organization must be committed to recognizing and uplifting each other, and for many companies, it’s going to take quite a bit of work to get there.

The first step however, is to position employees to actually come from a place of knowledge and understanding in their day-to-day interactions. Rather than focusing on mandatory trainings that can backfire, time-bound efforts (e.g. Black History Month), and other token commitments, help employees get to know one another. Foster camaraderie rather than competition. If you’re a manager, learn to really check in with your employees and encourage your team to do so for each other as well. Offer opportunities to learn about employees’ experiences as a way of changing minds, rather than continuing to fall back on the same old sessions that have gotten us nowhere.

For example, without the historical context of White/Black race relations that many are just beginning to open their eyes to now, it will be difficult to cultivate the depth of empathy that’s needed to build truly inclusive workplaces for Black employees. Accordingly, consider working with one or more of your ERGs to organize an event with a Black historian, and also be sure to offer Black employees the opportunity to honestly share their own lived experiences without fear of judgment or reprisal or, crucially, the expectation that they must share. Invite others to discuss times when they saw or experienced bias, as well as when they perpetrated it themselves. Holding space for people to share and learn from each other on an ongoing basis will do far more for your organization than trying to simply hire more women engineers (which is also an important effort, but one that can only go so far if those employees don’t stay).

Let’s stop doing the same thing and expecting different results. Now is the time for companies to decide whether they want to continue to pay lip service to workplace diversity and inclusion, or if they’re ready to finally put in the effort necessary to reap the far-reaching benefits. If your company is in the second category and is looking for a tool to help support you on your journey, from event ideas and activity roadmaps, to analytics that actually monitor inclusion, visit We’d love to learn more about where you are currently, and where you’d like to go.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

Combatting anti-Black racism in the workplace

As many organizations have rushed to engage in performative solidarity with the Black community while they continue to support oppressive internal cultures and business practices, it’s time for HR to seize this moment. The industry is in a unique position to play a central role in dismantling the structures that have compounded and perpetuated centuries-old inequities. Given the extent of the issues we’re facing, it’s going to take a lot of work, but the first step towards making change is to name the problem outright. The majority of our workplace cultures are racist against Black folks by design, and we need to first acknowledge that before we can begin to move forward.

It has long been considered unprofessional to talk about race or call out instances of racism in the workplace. This has not only allowed White people and others to remain ignorant to the challenges Black folks face every day, and in many cases to actively participate in creating/preserving those challenges, but it has also denied Black employees a true place at the table. Despite the estimated $8 billion that is spent on diversity and inclusion training every year, Black employees at many companies are still forced to engage in a sick series of contortions to simply get through the day. From covering, in which people can’t bring their whole selves to the office and must pretend to be someone that fits their workplace’s implicit and explicit expectations, to enduring both micro and macroagressions with no recourse, even a light workday becomes completely exhausting.

There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that all of the systems we grow up with in the U.S. are designed to oppress. Anti-Black racism is embedded in our housing system, our education system, our medical system, our financial/economic system, our employment system, certainly in our criminal justice system, and beyond. In our workplaces, what appear to those making them as merit-based decisions are much more frequently based upon a credentialing system that is already stacked against Black folks, coupled with our innate compulsion to favor those who look like us. A senior White person may choose to promote a White colleague based on the ‘potential’ they see in them, when in reality it’s simply that that person reminds them of themselves when they were younger. Compound this with the dynamics mentioned above, and without even touching upon the complex landscape that Black folks with intersectional identities must navigate, the crucible of conditions we’ve created becomes inescapable.

Alleged diversity and inclusion efforts have gone on far too long without achieving legitimate systemic change for Black employees. While individual companies may have made some progress towards building more inclusive and supportive spaces for Black folks, the overwhelming majority have simply paid lip service because not only do those in charge not feel this impacts them, but in many cases maintaining systems of oppression actively benefits them. Without genuine buy-in from the top to work not just towards being not racist, but becoming actively anti-racist, every day, the movement will continue to struggle. That said, as the role of the Chief People Officer continues to gain sway within the organization, an opportunity may be emerging to drive an agenda that centers rooting out anti-Black racism, and delivers results.

The process must begin with education. Until White people and others are willing to face up to the reality of the ongoing systems, biases, etc. that factor into the status quo, and recognize and admit their active role in it, any ‘solutions’ will be superficial. HR professionals can begin by educating themselves, bringing in Black historians and anti-racism educators to share their knowledge with employees, and most importantly, by having difficult conversations with executives grounded in truth, rather than trying to preserve anyone’s feelings.

Examine your existing protocols (or lack thereof) and how they are enabling bias. Design and communicate explicit policies around the manifestations of racism and intolerance that you will not accept in your workplace. Include specific examples, along with step-by-step processes for lodging a complaint, how it will be handled, and the repercussions those found to be in violation can expect. Then actually follow through on building an environment where people can call out discrimination for what it is without fear of reprisal. Mobilize your entire workforce in the effort to identify and root out racism and oppression.

This may seem like a lot to ask, and maybe you don’t believe that you and/or your company are part of the problem. The fact is though, with centuries’-worth of unlearning and undoing ahead of us, we all have a part to play. As long as Black people continue to be murdered in the streets, in their homes, in their cars, and elsewhere, simply for going about their lives, taking the time for self-examination feels like the absolute least you can do.

We’re actively committed to starting with ourselves here at Workrowd, seeking to educate ourselves and unlearn the world as we know it. We’ve similarly been committed to diverse hiring efforts from Day 0, and continue to seek out partnerships and engagements with Black consultants and Black-owned businesses. As has been the case since our founding, we’ll be continuing to roll out additional educational materials and anti-racist resources through our diversity and inclusion-focused krowds, particularly around employee resource groups, in efforts to get critical learning tools into the hands of more employees. If you’d like to contribute and/or have recommendations for us, please keep them coming. We’re at

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging

The importance of affinity groups in times of crisis

The rapid spread of the coronavirus around the globe has highlighted a key feature of life today: we are all deeply and inextricably linked. As social creatures, almost everything we do in industrialized societies relies on a long chain of other people to make it possible. Across cities, states, countries, and continents, we are all interconnected in ways that we rarely acknowledge. Unfortunately, one of our most effective pandemic responses, social distancing, has forced us to reckon with almost total isolation.

While the economic impacts of this virus will be both wide and deep, even those who are lucky enough to be able to work remotely are experiencing interpersonal effects. In 2019, 16% of companies operated with a fully remote workforce. For those in the other 84%, the social distancing measures of late have required a whole new approach to the work day. The one-off interactions with people at their desks, before and after meetings, in the kitchen/lunchroom, etc. that we used to take for granted are now nonexistent. Our new coworkers for the foreseeable future are the people we live with and our pets. As people struggle to adapt to video calls and to navigate shifting priorities on projects facing uncertain futures, we need the support of our colleagues now more than ever.

We’ve written before about the importance of culture and employee communities, but it is in times like these that those elements really come to the fore. As life as we know it slips away and the weight of this new reality sets in, employees who were dissatisfied before the crisis will only disengage further. Without the daily context of the workplace to keep them tuned in, and no motivation to support a company they feel doesn’t support them, their performance will suffer even further. Those companies that have been resistant to allowing remote work up until this point because they were concerned employees would ‘slack off’ at home were likely right. It wasn’t an issue with the employee however, but an issue with the company and its approach to talent management. If the company doesn’t trust their employees and recognize them as more than just cogs in the wheel, they can’t expect their employees to go above and beyond for them, particularly at such a distracting and distressing time.

One of the key reasons employees cite for giving their all day after day for a company is getting to work with great people. When employees have deep connections with their coworkers, they have a built-in support system that makes the bad times manageable, and the good times even better. In a situation like the one we’re currently facing, having a strong network of colleagues through one or more affinity groups to commiserate, share tips, and just chat with to stay sane can make or break an employee’s success. Amidst fear and uncertainty, it’s your team that keeps you going and helps you muddle through in the face of the unknown.

In order to help employees build such connections, it’s critical to provide forums for them to interact substantively with others outside their department or project teams. The easiest way to do this is to set up the infrastructure for employees to self-select into affinity groups that resonate with them. Start a group for parents of young children to share tips and trials related to trying to homeschool kids while also working full-time out of the house. Start a group for the mass of new pet parents that the coronavirus has created so they can bond over animal antics. Start a group for those caring for older relatives who may be especially frightened at this time. Give your employees the ability to share what they’re going through with colleagues, rather than expecting them to turn off 70% of themselves and plow through their work like machines. We promise it will pay significant dividends when we can all return to the office and your team is reinvigorated by seeing their support system in person rather than returning to a group of strangers with whom they share no connection.

If you’re interested in providing more social infrastructure to keep your employees healthy, sane, and engaged throughout this trying time, we’re now offering free trials of our software as a way to support. It can be difficult to launch new employee initiatives such as affinity groups from behind a screen, but with Workrowd’s flexible engagement solution, you can set up employee communities in a few quick clicks. With everyone newly geographically distributed, our tools also provide you with critical insight into what’s happening, from what initiatives are being scheduled and who’s engaging, to which programs and sessions employees like the most.

If you think we can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at We’d love to hear how you’re doing, what you’re struggling with, and what you need to make things better. Stay safe, everyone!