A Recap from our DEI Meetup – From Self-Care to Community Care: How Can We Show Up for Ourselves and Our Colleagues?
Adriana Black, Associate Director for Diversity and Inclusion Education at Tufts University
Chloe Davis-Carden, Senior Director of People and Culture at BetterLesson
Jaylee Momplaisir, Talent and People Strategist at Sendwave and CEO/Co-founder of You Good Sis?
At our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Meetup in Boston, we explored the concept of community care and what it would look like to incorporate it within the workplace. Here are 5 tips from our panelists to get you started:
You may have heard of employee resource groups (ERGs) or workplace affinity groups, where people who share a common identity (i.e. race, gender, sexaul orientation, etc.) come together to discuss concerns or issues they may be experiencing in or out of the workplace. Through conversations and/or activities, ERGs can be a great way for employees to shed light on important topics and develop a tangible action plan to create change within a company. Davis-Carden and Momplaisir both agreed that ERGs can be successful when there is not only leadership buy-in, but also full interest and participation from senior leadership. In addition to in-person groups, having online ERGs can also be helpful and accomodating to remote workers and people who may not be able to meet during or after work hours. Showing that we care about the experiences of our employees by doing something about it sets the tone for a company’s culture.
Some of the best work meetings I’ve been part of are the ones where someone has asked a heartland “how are you?” and actually mean it. Black shared with us that in order for people to feel cared for by their colleagues or supervisors, it’s important to create a space where employees can be themselves and feel vulnerable when needed. Checking in with co-workers doesn’t have to stop there. Momplaisir shared that opening prompts in the beginning of a team meeting such as: “If you knew one thing going on in my life right now, I would want you to know…” is a great way to learn about who our colleagues are, and what they may be experiencing in and outside of the workplace.
A great way to understand team dynamics and overall employee experience within a workplace is through feedback. Having both formal and informal mechanisms for employees to share concerns, suggestions or compliments can help managers and colleagues improve their relationship with one another. Mechanisms include performance reviews, employee engagement surveys, conversations during one-on-ones and team meetings, or through everyday interactions. Having different forms of feedback channels allow for flexibility and provide an array of options for people who may gravitate towards a certain type of feedback over another. Davis-Carden mentioned that in order to give and receive honest and effective feedback, we must first build trust in our workplace relationships.
The term allyship has come to mean many things for many people. Because of this, there has been an increase in using different terms, such as accomplice or co-conspirator, to stress the importance of action. Black and Davis-Carden emphasized how important it is for people with privileged identities to actively stand in solidarity with people from historically marginalized identities. If community care is practiced within a workplace, relationships are usually strong enough for people to know when and how to show up for each other. This may look like having a private conversation with someone who has said something harmful or creating a learning space to hold people accountable for their actions. Momplaisit shared that this could also mean advocating for change in practices and policies, or bringing attention to current events that may have an impact on employees and/or the community an organization is serving.
It’s increasingly imperative that we consider creating a culture of belonging in order to support new and more diverse groups of employees. In order to do so, it’s important to implement group activities and trainings that ensure all employees have at minimum a baseline understanding of issues related to diversity, equity , and inclusion (DEI). In addition to awareness, companies will be better served by embedding a DEI lens into their strategic plans instead of creating separate initiatives that don’t receive the same support, priority, and buy-in compared to other organizational efforts. Providing resources to address issues employees face is key to developing a culture of community care and creating a sustainable business.
This is part two of a two-part series exploring community care in the workplace. Check out part one here: Beyond Self-Care: Understanding Community Care and Why It’s Important
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