As a child, did you get the chance to check out your parents’ workplace? Were you exhilarated with the prospect of seeing yourself working in that environment? Or filled with a sense of dread because there was nobody who looked like you, and you doubted you would fit in?
One of the most recognized events that provides kids with a glimpse into the working world is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day. This year’s virtual event takes place on Thursday, April 22, with the theme of Boldly Moving Forward, and it provides an excellent opportunity to show future generations the power of inclusivity. This reimagined event allows both parents and teachers to attend with their kids and students from home, school, or elsewhere, in meaningful ways that can inspire a vision of their future lives. It’s also a great time to have frank and honest conversations about the value of inclusiveness and where more effort is still needed.
I had the chance to speak to Sonia Zamborsky, a DEI consultant who helps organizations implement inclusion & belonging strategies. Sonia graciously shares context to think, reflect and converse about diversity, equity and inclusion at the workplace, and help us get this conversation started.
How do you define Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
There’s more awareness than ever before of the power of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace and other settings. Diversity refers to the many ways people are different, and includes visible qualities like race, age, and gender as well as less obvious characteristics like sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and neurodiversity. Equity is about removing barriers to growth and opportunity, with the goal of meeting everyone’s individual needs. Inclusion means everyone feels welcome and supported and feels safe bringing their best selves to work. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers is credited with saying “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” I like this addendum: Equity allows everyone to contribute to the playlist. When all three of these elements are present, it means the team feels a sense of belonging and everyone is fully engaged in the tasks at hand.
What benefits are derived from creating an inclusive culture?
Creating a culture of belonging isn’t just a warm fuzzy slogan; it’s good for business. When the team is fully engaged, they’re more productive. The psychological safety that comes from an individual’s sense of belonging engenders trust within the team, which fosters innovation. Diverse teams – where true diversity of thought is encouraged – create diverse products that serve a more diverse customer base. Conversely, workers who have to spend time and energy covering up a fundamental aspect of themselves, or feel like they need to code-switch to fit in, are depriving themselves, the team, and the organization of their full potential. As a colleague recently pointed out, “without equity and belonging, ‘diversity’ is just counting people without making sure they count.”
How will creating a culture of belonging affect future generations?
As we aim to inspire future generations to join our workforce, consider this: A 2015 Deloitte University study found that millennials “value inclusion not as an abstract ideal that checks a box and makes everyone feel good, but as a critical tool that enables business competitiveness and growth.” Millennials overwhelmingly prefer to work for organizations that reflect their values. And this trend is only proving stronger in the generations that follow. A 2020 university recruiting study from Door of Clubs found that 57% of students selected “diversity” as a quality in a work environment that they value. And 99% of students want a company to support a cause when considering whether or not to work there, with 37% choosing “equality” as their top cause.
Representation matters, as does visibility, and access. Whether you are a parent, educator, or employer, we all have a vested interest in inspiring kids to imagine the possibilities of their future work life.
Resources for parents, mentors and employers:
Since 1993, Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day has provided a chance to show just what parents and caregivers do at work all day. This year, as we continue to adapt to pandemic challenges, and the event takes on a new virtual format, there’s an opportunity to have a frank discussion with your kids about the makeup of your office teams. Sonia provides us with some great discussion starters:
- Do you feel a personal sense of inclusion within your organization?
- Is the leadership of your company as diverse as you’d hope for, and if not, where is there room for improvement?
- What does it feel like when you’re the only one like you in the room?
- How can you be an ally for your colleagues who represent marginalized communities?
Also keep in mind that those without children (or those who may not have kids in a specific age range) are important participants in these discussions. Consider including aunts, uncles, and other childfree folks in the dialogue. Take Our Daughters And Sons To Wor® Day offers Parent’s and Mentor’s Toolkits to help get the conversations started.
Resources for employers:
How does your company foster a sense of belonging and encourage your employees to bring their best selves to work? Where are you falling short of your goals? Seeing this through the lens of visiting children (even if the “visits” are only virtual this year) provides a great opening for follow-up conversations with your workforce. How can you and your organization Boldly Move Forward to inspire future generations to see your workplace as their top choice? Check out the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day Coordinator’s Toolkit for tips on how to make this event more inclusive, as one critical step in your company’s DEI journey. Kids will be more inspired to someday join your team if they see themselves represented in your workplace. After all, diversity recruiting is a long game!
Let’s use the power of Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day as an opportunity to broaden the conversation about family and work and make children’s voices heard. Let’s encourage children to share their ideas about the workplace of the future with the companies that will someday employ them. Sign up to sponsor or participate in the 2021 virtual event at https://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org.