If you told me in 2019 the year 2020 was going to be one of the most ever-changing and historical times, I would have said, “you’ve got the wrong planet, sounds like an awful movie.”
Yet, 6 months into the year, we’ve experienced a global pandemic that would have us reimagining life and business, coupled with recent events like the tragic death of George Floyd that have the globe going through a culture reset and a revolution that will go down in history.
In some ways, I think, how the f%&! did we get here? In other ways, I think we can finally now create the world we want to live in that’s hopefully sustainable and can foster real, positive change in the best interest of all. It’s like the culture reset button was hit on a global scale.
So many changes on a daily basis, yet lately it doesn’t even seem like COVID-19 is the topic of discussion anymore. Racial equality is on people’s minds. Educating and bringing more awareness than I can remember we’ve ever had on racism, white supremacy, racial injustice and other social issues I’m sure I’m missing, is on people’s minds.
We’re not just talking about it. We’re writing about it, reading about it, watching it unfold in protests, documentaries, movies, interviews, podcasts, spread across social media and the news at large.
Like a global pandemic forced us into reconsidering how we live and do business, the tragic events of George Floyd and many others before him have sparked a global movement towards change and equality, we’re brought to our knees yet again. This time to talk about the systemic issue of racism that has seeped its way into the hearts and minds at the highest levels of government, institutions, systems and businesses.
And the questions began:
What do we do from here?
Where do we start?
How do we change?
What do we need to change?
We asked similar questions related to how we pivot in our business during COVID-19 so we can stay ‘alive’, current and relevant. Many took the time to come together in more unity, stronger collaborations and new partnerships and allies were formed. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate how our workplace culture reflects what we say we are and how we show up.
At this pivotal time in our society, it seems even more fitting to re-evaluate workplace cultures to truly identify the gaps in what a diverse and inclusive workplace looks like. This time, not because a global pandemic sparked about a ‘reset’ but due to the intense emotions behind a movement that’s erupted from protests and conversations taking place across the globe.
A time so moving, as an organization, you’re being invited to ask yourself:
What are my corporate responsibilities and what measures can I take to assess what our workplace culture looks like? How do we reset to one that is reflective of diversity, inclusivity and equity for all?
Culture is the very ‘heart’ of your business, is everchanging and evolving. As you grow and scale it will naturally shift, yet in doing so, a thoughtful and intentional approach to how to navigate your growth is required to avoid what we know can turn into “a toxic culture.”
Here are a few areas to explore as you look to a culture reset in your workplace:
- What’s working & what’s not – in most cases, there will be obvious “no, no’s” your business can do without. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as they say. Take an honest and willing approach to identify the things truly aren’t working and keep doing the things you’re doing right.
- Listen – it’s what we’ve been hearing a lot of these days. Use your voice for change, but also listen and learn. Your culture is made up of the very individuals who are your employees while encompassing the beliefs, values and emotions of the collective group. As a leadership team, you set the tone! Have a town hall where you can have an open conversation/dialogue of what changes people want to see happen and listen.
- ERG’s & DE&I officer presence – some organizations have Employee Resource Groups while others have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. If you have neither, now would be a great time to explore your options whether it’s investing in a full-time hire to cover your organization’s role in ensuring a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace and also ensuring hiring practices are upheld in this arena as well. Additionally, consider what a regular workshop and/or training could look like in this space to stay up to date and current.
- Invest in EQ training across all levels of the organization –emotional intelligence training has become less of a trend and more of a requirement in the workplace. It’s also often reserved for executive leadership or at the least, management level. When we can ‘normalize’ emotions such as empathy, compassion and sensitivity in the workplace, we can begin to develop deeper more meaningful working relationships. Consider recurring training in emotional intelligence for all employees.
- Redefine wellbeing & wellness – we have been redefining benefits in the workplace along with vacation time and how and when to use it all in the name of ‘self-care.’ It’s time to redefine wellbeing and wellness and take a more holistic approach to the human behind the role they hold in your organization. Communicating how wellness and overall wellbeing can support employee’s performance and productivity levels can go a long way with how success and performance may be viewed in the workplace.
- Explore trust & safety in the workplace – changes sometimes require difficult conversations. If it’s uncomfortable and hard to have, it’s likely one worth having. Especially if it leads to transformative change even over time. These are huge when it comes to a healthy culture and can be toxic if left unattended or ignored. What does a safe work environment look like and how do you build trust? Does it need work? Some questions to explore.
- Mark the shift of cultural change – often cultural changes take time and employees want to see changes to believe it. Leadership is often at the forefront of those changes. While leading with new adopted behaviours and beliefs, how can you mark this new change? Sometimes it’s as bold as new brand identity or logo change. Other times, it can be something more internally focused on sponsoring the ‘change’ in the form of T-shirts or notebooks. What can you do to make the change impressionable?
An insightful article by Harvard Business Review calls a change of a company culture requires a movement, not a mandate. If we looked at a workplace culture reset with the same level of intensity a movement often has, imagine what the changes could look like.
Ultimately, this level of change speaks to the underlying motive when changing culture and begs the question, what’s the cost of not doing anything at all?