As we watch the heartbreaking headlines surrounding the senseless murder of George Floyd and protests escalating across the US, it’s a glaring reminder that even today, in 2020, inequalities still exist. We’re seeing decades of anguish, fear, and rage coming to a head; a pressure cooker exploding.
As a society, we’re all responsible. We missed the signs; we didn’t hear (or chose to ignore) the earlier messages from the black population. And when a part of our community feels unheard, our separations only grow wider until eventually, the differences become divisive and tear us apart completely.
Change must occur at all levels. For the business community, we can impact society by promoting a better workplace— a work environment that celebrates diversity and not only accepts employees for who they uniquely are but encourages everyone to contribute. A culture that fosters feedback and welcomes all comments, even the ones that are difficult to hear. While many organizations may have equal-employer policies, it’s the inclusivity of your environment that makes a difference.
How Can You Ensure All Voices Are Heard?
Developing a culture of inclusivity starts at the top, incorporating mechanisms into your organizational structure for employees to share concerns, without ramification. And, it takes diligent listening. From our own experience, it’s not always easy, and, requires time to really listen and thoughtfully respond. But in the long run, we’re better off, having benefited from multiple perspectives and a variety of voices to help guide our organization.
There are many different ways you can make employees feel valued and heard. These are a few we use at Perkuto:
If you’re not familiar with Officevibe, it’s a simple platform to develop trust and understand the “health” and morale of your staff, with feedback submitted anonymously. By nature, our personalities are all different and communication styles varied. Officevibe provides a forum for those who might not speak up otherwise to provide input and know they will receive a response. Having a “safe” platform to submit anonymous feedback ensures everyone can share whatever is on their mind, without fear of reprimand or bias. And as an organization, you remove the blind spots of what your employees are feeling.
Weekly Manager Meetings
In step with our musical theme, we call them “Soundtracks,” but whatever you choose to call them, it’s important for managers to have weekly time with their direct reports. In our meetings, we start off by asking each employee how they are feeling. Sometimes we get answers related to workloads or specific projects; other times we get deeply personal responses about what’s going on outside of work and the pressures they are facing. However the employee chooses to respond, our goal is to support our team members as humans— persons, parents, partners, sons and daughters— not just as FTE’s.
Every month, we have an “all-hands” meeting, or as we call it, a “Concert.” The name was chosen again, as part of our musical philosophy, but is also representative of the content. No, we don’t engage in Zoom singing, but rather it’s a composition of all players— a time when our executive management team gives transparent updates on the company’s performance in the past month and provides an opportunity for employees to ask questions or share public feedback. Simple and not unique, but effective.
Honestly evaluate your organization. Do you hear all voices, even the quiet ones?
Welcoming staff diversity in your hiring and promotion practices is a good start, but truly listening to what employees have to say is what really makes an impact, for them and for you. For decades, the black community has been giving society signals and voicing their grievances. It’s been unheard for too long; now is the time to listen and take action.
Perkuto fully supports the equality of all individuals and seeks to create a work culture accepting all employees, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age. We stand with the black community over the tragic loss of George Floyd and support the LGBTQ community as we enter Pride Month.