How to Elevate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Throughout Women’s History Month, I reflected deeply on the progress we’ve made as a global society toward building an inclusive world where people are valued for their diversity. 

On one hand, we’ve made tremendous progress on many fronts: Kamala Harris recently became the first woman of color to be elected into the White House, and two women, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, made history by jointly winning the Nobel Prize for chemistry. 

On the other hand, the challenges of a global pandemic have exposed gender and racial inequalities that still exist in our world and negatively impact our society’s progression. More women are dropping out of the workforce than men, and there’s been a sharp rise in hate crimes towards African Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.  

We must remember that respecting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is not just a good thing but is basic humanity. It’s not something we do and check off — it’s something we have to think deeply about and practice repeatedly. So, I’ve asked the leaders at NextRoll to think about how they can be supportive and compassionate to:

  • Working parents trying to juggle child care during these difficult times

  • African American, Asian American, and other underrepresented team members who might be worried about their or their family’s safety

  • Quieter voices or those with differences in opinion

Here are some excellent examples of how our leaders are creating an inclusive environment and fostering psychological safety across their teams:

By being transparent: “As a working parent who juggles child care, I try and normalize my situation as much as possible. If I’m going to miss a meeting because I need to do nanny drop off unexpectedly, I’ll state that specific reason rather than a generic ‘Sorry, something came up.’ By being upfront about my challenges, I hope that my colleagues feel the freedom to do the same.” — Julie Zhou, Sr. Growth Director at AdRoll

By offering flexibility: “I try to emphasize that 1) You don’t need permission to take advantage of flexibility, and 2) You don’t need to provide a specific reason. It’s preferable that folks feel comfortable to share what’s going on in their lives, but for those who might feel hesitant doing so, that’s fine, too.” — Evan Clark, Senior Manager of Business Intelligence and Analytics at NextRoll

By following up: “When I feel that certain people aren’t speaking up in a meeting or seem ‘off’ or distracted, I like to follow up with pings or 1:1 meetings to ask questions such as, ‘Are you ok? You seemed a little quiet just now, wanted to make sure you feel comfortable with what was just discussed.'” — Johanna Eichhorst, Head of NAMER Direct Sales at AdRoll

By broadening their perspectives: “I try to start meetings reminding myself that the wisdom in the room will be better than mine. Even when my first instinct is to question an idea, I respond with, ‘That’s interesting — tell us more.'” — Greg Biggers, VP of Product at AdRoll 

This moment in history calls for leadership that’s rooted in compassion, empathy, and social consciousness. It’s not enough to just listen and have conversations around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — it’s the actions through these conversations that matter. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for organizations to take actionable steps towards creating work environments where people of all backgrounds and identities feel valued and heard. What questions will you ask to build a better tomorrow for the women of the world? Ask yourself and act on your answers.