Striving to create a safe space and belonging in the workplace for your employees to bring their whole authentic selves to work should be on the top of your agenda. It creates a better environment and experience for both employees and clients and feeling like you can be yourself at work improves employee engagement, empowerment, trust, relationships, and happiness.
We Asked #TeamEames: How can companies make employees feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work?
Lead from the front, make sure executives are open and transparent and create a culture of accountability that employees feel they will be supported if they flag things they find uncomfortable or inappropriate. This is especially important in a sales business or teams which are one gender dominant. - Andrew Mackay, Eames Consulting. UK
I think the key word here is “safe”. Good things for employers to do to encourage that “safe” feeling include seeking regular feedback from their staff through open-door policies, suggestion boxes, anonymous reporting lines as well as town halls and more formal structures to allow staff to feel listened to when they have a grievance or concern. And then, almost more importantly, you need to be able to act on that feedback and show the staff you take their issues seriously. Being transparent on where you are with your inclusion journey is essential to gain trust from individuals, along with making measurable, regularly monitored pledges to fix things that you know are hampering staff from being themselves in the workplace. Practices, where you encourage collectively working on a problem, rather than solutions being handed down from a myopic decision-maker, can also foster a view that the firm is genuinely interested in staff and their views, and openly celebrating success and highlighting where someone’s difference has been the driver behind that success can also be helpful. - Charlie Thomas, Eames Partnership, UK
That starts long before an individual becomes an employee. We have to be honest and authentic in an interview about how we create an inclusive environment and then make sure that is the “lived experience” when someone joins us. Having an open culture, where we discuss and embrace difference, encourages people to be themselves at work and have that sense of belonging. - Ruth Foster, Eames Group, UK
This is a challenge, as what would make one person feel safe isn't necessarily going to make another feel safe. So it's important to build an inclusive culture and ensure there is continual discussion and support for everyone regardless of their sexuality and gender expression. - Abigail Moss, Eames Consulting, UK
Encouraging a supportive environment right from the top. If authentic leadership is demonstrated, this will trickle down into the company culture. I think having as diverse a workplace as possible is important, somewhere where everyone feels welcomed. - Heather Yardley, Eames Consulting, UK
By creating an inclusive and supportive environment. - Hannah Turner, Eames Consulting, UK
Companies should be active with their support of diversity in the workplace. They could provide training and education for their employees on LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the workplace. At Eames, we had a very awakening session with LINK, an LGBTQ+ insurance network. It is a small step, but I genuinely think it would contribute to employees feeling safe in bringing their authentic selves to work. - Rafaela Fakhre, Eames Consulting, UK
By having zero tolerance towards discrimination and providing education and support awareness campaigns on being inclusive. - Elmer Tan, Eames Consulting, Singapore