5 Ways Entry-Level Employees Can Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Work – Career & Professional Development

5 ways in which entry-level workers can support diversity, equality and inclusion in work Originally Posted in The muse, A great place to explore friendships and careers. Click here To look for great jobs and companies near you.

Diversity and inclusion have long been buzz words that companies march on – often for marketing purposes. But in recent years, more and more job seekers and workers, especially millennials and Generation Zs Testing companies According to their diversity and inclusion record in addition to factors like salary and career opportunities. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), for example, 79% of graduates saw a diverse workforce as “very important.” And these employees expect companies to do more than just lip service to create a diverse, egalitarian and inclusive environment.

Corporations have a long way to go to meet these expectations. A McKinsey Report for 2020 Found that the representation of ethnic minorities and women on management teams across the U.S. and UK was only 13% and 20% in 2019, respectively. Survey By the human resources consulting firm Mercer found that while white workers make up 64% of the entry-level workers, they make up 85% of the management level, illustrating the barriers faced by BIPOC employees when it comes to promotion. Black women, for example, are less likely to receive support and encouragement from their managers or have the opportunity to interact with senior leaders, according to Lean In report, And at the same time also experiencing a wide range of micro-aggressions.

Statistics, studies and stories can seem daunting if you are an early career professional who has just entered the workforce – especially if you are a BIPOC employee. In many cases, the reality is that you will join organizations that have a lot of work to do when it comes to DEI.

Ultimately, widespread change can only occur when there is policy and cultural change at the organizational level, which should come from those at the top. However, there they Ways you can encourage diversity, equality and inclusion in the early years of your career. And especially as the A war for talent In a post-epidemic workforce that continues, you may find yourself in a strong position to demand more from the companies you work for and take action that has the potential to lead to long-term change. Here are five ways you can start doing just that.

1. Take on a job you want (and have the ability) to do

Diversity and inclusion touch on many aspects of the workplace – from culture to recruitment to the media. As an early career employee, it can be daunting to figure out where to start if you want to make an impact.

That’s why it’s important to take stock of where the company is when it comes to diversity and inclusion, says Doris Quintanilla, CEO and co-founder of The Melanin Collective, An organization that provides consulting services for diversity and inclusion. Next, identify areas that need improvement and ways you can help as an employee early in your career (see some examples below). From there, you have to decide if it’s something you want (or have the ability) to take on. This is especially important for BIPOC employees, who may feel they have no choice but to engage in this work if they do not see themselves reflected in the bosses and co-workers. “But unless your job is the head of diversity, then it’s not really your job. It’s an addition and should be treated as such,” Quintanilla says.

If you do want to and have the ability to take on the job, the next step is to calculate how long it will take and how you will be able to juggle those with your responsibilities at work. If you have to spend overtime, consider whether or not you will be compensated. While most companies still see diversity and inclusion work as an “addition,” a growing number recognize that it is work that involves additional work and treat it as such, says Dr. Aquila Cadet, senior coach and CEO and founder of Year cadet, A consulting company that offers services such as data assessments, planning and consulting to support diversity, equality, inclusion and workplace belonging.

Once you get the job done, Quintanilla offers to keep a record of the initiatives and responsibilities you take on – so you can address them later during your annual review or during sales promotion and pay raises. However, a cadet warns that you must be careful not to take too much responsibility too soon. “It happens a lot with first-time employees,” she says. It specifically warns BIPOC employees from joining too many committees or doing all the work in employee resource groups, because you do not want to create an expectation that “can fall into tokens.”

2. Find ways to get involved in the recruitment process

Companies that want to diversify their workforce often need to change their recruitment methods and find ways to expand their talent pool. And there are many ways employees at any level can help with this, even if you are not officially part of the recruitment process. For example, if you have a Diverse network of friends, Says Cadet, letting those friends know about open positions in your workplace can go a long way. If you know a candidate who might be perfect for this open position, you can also recommend him to the recruiting manager or at least make sure the recruiting manager sees his application.

You can also “look at policies and procedures on how to recruit people and ask questions,” says Cadet. For example, if your company does not actively recruit from HBCUs (historically colleges and black universities), ask them why and suggest they start doing so.

Writing reviews of companies and sharing personal stories on public websites can also help attract a wider range of candidates. For starters, if you’re a colored person and you describe your experience as a POC in society, “people can read that,” says Quintanilla. “That’s what will get more people in.”

read more: 5 ways you can help your company find (and hire!) More diverse candidates

Speak loudly when you see micro-aggressions, but do it strategically

When a company or waterfall team works on the margins, it can manifest itself in big ways – like ignoring them for promotion. But it also happens in everyday interactions and social conversations – for example, when colleagues shut up and doubt their ideas in meetings. It’s important to talk when these things happen, Cadet says, but how you do it and what you say should depend on the situation you are witnessing or experiencing.

Take the example of a BIPOC employee who constantly pulls out his ideas or is questioned in meetings. If this happens to you, Cadet recommends sending an email or pulling the criminals aside privately after the meeting and saying something along the lines of: “I know maybe that was not your intention, but I wanted to bring it to you. Note that when you do x, I feel that way. “

If you are an observer who does not want to be an outside observer, you may contact someone similarly after the fact. Or if you are witnessing micro-aggression in a smaller group or in a one-on-one setting, and you have a comfortable relationship with the person, it is best to voice it right away. Saying something like, “This is micro-aggression, let’s not use it,” or, “This is inaccurate,” lets a person know that what he is saying is inappropriate. So you can explain in an instant how language hurts or say to a person, “I’m happy to explain why at a later date.”

read more: How to make your voice heard in the workplace (especially as a woman or a minority)

Initiate conversations around current events

Both Cadet and Quintanilla say that one of the most important and important things an employee can do early in their career to improve diversity and inclusion in society is to be willing to ask tough questions and participate in tough conversations.

Use the news as a starting point to initiate conversations about how current events may affect office workers, Cadet says. During one-on-one meetings with your supervisor, you might say something like, “This xyz thing that happens in the news affects me. Can we talk about it more as a company?” In a group meeting, it might be a statement like, “This x thing on the news is annoying. I wonder how everyone feels about it?”

Employees at the beginning of their careers may feel they are not in a position to make policy changes, but Cadet and Quintanilla say raising such discussions is actually the first step. After all, policy changes do not happen immediately. Cadet urges beginning-level employees to use their “news” to their advantage. Many companies are actively engaged in anti-racism efforts, she says, and having early-stage employees ask questions about what they do in response to current events is one way they can hold the company accountable.

5. Enforce your boundaries

Improving diversity and inclusion is not an overnight task. It is an ongoing process that requires a significant amount of emotional energy. There may be weeks that just feel too heavy, and you are not in the head space to engage in this type of work. It’s essential that you can say no in these circumstances, says Quintanilla, something easier to do “when you set expectations and boundaries,” both with yourself and with the people at work.

Boundaries are important regardless of how people identify, Cadet says. For white workers (or white passers-by), “their boundaries are around relationships,” Cadet explains. “Am I still going to talk to a coworker who is clearly discriminatory, sexist, homophobic or racist?” If you decide to continue talking to them, what kind of boundaries can you place around conversation topics and discussion points? Of course, this can be difficult to do if the person in question is your supervisor or someone who has a lot of power in the company. In this case, Cadet says the best thing to do is report them to HR, or at least talk to another supervisor or senior employee with whom you have a good relationship.

For BIPOC, it could be saying, “I do not want to educate today, I’m tired,” or that I have the resources at hand to refer people – whether it be books, podcasts or videos – when they find themselves accepting the edge of diversity and inclusion-related questions . Giving yourself a break is just as important as getting the job done, says Cadet. “We must make sure we are whole before we help other people.”

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