The month of April is also known as Celebrate Diversity Month. April is home to many religious sacred days and holidays. While these dates are important, there are also other things to focus on to create a respectful work environment.
Thinking About Inclusion and Diversity Should Be Ongoing
If you provide employees with diversity and inclusion training every year or six months, you are not providing nearly enough. Unconscious bias is real, and while diversity training can help combat it, if you are only learning those things once a year, people have time to slip back into bad habits.
Businesses should familiarize employees with diversity and inclusion daily. That may mean hanging informative posters around the office or mandating monthly training. Employees should always have avenues to learn the importance of diversity and inclusion and just what it means to be inclusive. Bigger Brains provides one of these avenues through its course Improving Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) in Your Workplace.
Time to Celebrate Sacred Days- Holidays – Events
There are lots of sacred days and events that happen during April. These events involve different types of celebrations, so you need to know how to respect employee requests during this time as an employer. Some sacred days/events may involve employees asking off work to celebrate appropriately. Being respectful of diversity means respecting that employees have a right to celebrate important dates on personal time or time off they have earned.
Many businesses already recognize Good Friday (and other Christian holidays) as a paid holiday. This is a great reason to have “floating holidays” available for non-Christians in your office. Use these days for non-celebrants to work from home, if able, or keep a business open. Allow them to take their holiday time when it matters to them. Create a policy and follow it to avoid confusion and issues.
As an employer, if you have employees looking to celebrate these Days, approving time off is a good step towards celebrating diversity. Showing employees that you care about their traditions and respect the importance of significant dates allows for a workplace built on mutual respect and appreciation.
Focus on Inclusion in ALL Areas
Sometimes, it can be hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in life. In many cases, there can be an unconscious disconnect that can sometimes lead to insensitivity. Sometimes these disconnects can be seen regarding disability inclusion in the workplace.
Take a moment to reflect. When was the last time you came across training material for people with visual impairments? How about the last time you found training materials that translated the information into ASL for employees with hearing impairments? If everyone was honest, this might be the first time that some of you have considered looking for training like this.
Now, take another moment to reflect. Could your business benefit from more inclusive training materials? Are there other areas in your company that need revisiting to make sure you provide a respectful and inclusive office environment for employees?
While training is an excellent place to start, it is not the only part of a company that should be inclusive to all employees. Other avenues that deserve inclusion are team-building exercises and after-work social events. If your first thought is to have a team-building hike, consider if you have team members with a disability or team members older in age. If either of these are the case, maybe a hike isn’t the best team-building experience.
Again, sometimes there can be an unconscious disconnect between your situation and that of a coworker. This is why it is crucial to provide sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion training more than only twice a year. If your workplace could benefit from identifying unconscious disconnects, you should look into Bigger Brains. The Bigger Brains course, Blind Spots: Diversity and Ethics, can help your business identify the roots of subconscious bias and evaluate the importance of equity in the workplace. Additionally, Bigger Brains courses include English transcripts for those with hearing impairments, and most courses are translated to other languages for those who have English as a second language.