Inclusion doesn’t happen in one giant leap.
Instead, it’s a journey of small steps, all of which add up to make people feel comfortable enough to be themselves at work.
“Focus on the first steps you can do,” says Max Masure, cofounder of Argo Collective, a group created to train workplaces on gender and inclusion. “When you try to change habits, you have to do small things that feel doable. You think ‘I can add pronouns.’ Then you think ‘I can do more and more over time.’ That’s the rain drop that is going to become a huge, new ocean.”
Here are some small steps to make a workplace feel more welcoming to people of all backgrounds.
Diversify your images
Even something as seemingly small as an image on a company website can say a lot to employees.
Within the office, portraits of white male CEOs may line the halls. Or, on the website, photos may only show workers who fit a certain type.
These images surround employees, sending silent messages about who is valued at the company and who isn’t.
“It sounds obvious, but we hadn’t been as intentional on our website and on our hiring website,” Etsy CEO Josh Silverman says. “Does that look like an inclusive group of people where someone who’s thinking about applying could see someone who looks like them? That turns out to make a big difference.”
Ask these same questions about the company’s social media use, says Lacey McLaughlin, CEO and cofounder of Flerish, a leadership development tool. The images and messages don’t only affect followers and potential customers; they also send a signal to employees and job candidates.
“Does everyone look the same?” McLaughlin says. “Are we engaging in the types of activities that we see people doing out in the community? Are they diverse? If they’re not diverse, what message is that sending?”