Workplaces and business leaders are coming to realize that inclusivity is a positive force for their teams. Not only is it the right thing to do from a human standpoint, but it can also benefit your work environment.
If you recognize and promote the importance of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI), your company can become a more welcoming and innovative environment. It may open your team to a broader range of backgrounds and skill sets. Your organization may also be more likely to pursue fairness actively, potentially cutting down on attrition.
Although the number of organizations that have policies that promote diversity and inclusion may be growing, there’s still plenty of untapped potential for JEDI initiatives. It’s not enough to simply state that you want inclusivity to be part of your business culture – policies can be ignored or paid lip service. Effective change must be implemented from the top down in the form of repeated, deliberate actions. It’s this kind of leadership that “walks the walk” for the rest of your organization.
How Boards Create Just, Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive Companies
A board is instrumental in guiding and modeling a company’s culture. Board members who care for the company’s work environment have the power to introduce new best practices and make employees feel heard. They can also assist in top-down JEDI initiatives and help foster companywide involvement by simply having a conversation.
If your board members are open to talking about social issues, they can help one another understand the needs of the team. They can also make suggestions based on their perspectives of the company culture. If you schedule regular meetings, these conversations can anchor your initiatives and keep the whole team focused on action.
Your board members’ viewpoints are especially valuable. While leaders and managers must live in the present, boards have the opportunity to consider the legacy of the company and plant seeds for the future. Members aren’t in the day-to-day weeds, so they can help you see the forest for the trees. This viewpoint can help you create a thorough, long-term plan as you prepare to make a change.
Start by working to understand why you are fighting to make the workplace more inclusive. Do your research.
How to Identify Board Members That Will Support JEDI Efforts
Board members can provide invaluable help and perspectives as you define and implement your JEDI initiatives. Here’s how you can start looking for the right people to help you facilitate change:
1. Attend networking events based on the demographics you need.
As an entrepreneur or small business leader, consider attending networking events based on different geographic and cultural demographics to expose you and your company to various voices and perspectives. You can’t build a more diverse company if you aren’t regularly meeting people of different backgrounds.
Use resources like nonprofits and professional member associations to tune into events in your space, and then join the conversation by engaging online with the new people you meet. These individuals can help you identify and potentially contribute the perspectives you lack in your company.
2. Form discussion groups with other entrepreneurs.
Learning from others who are doing the same JEDI work can really help to drive a collective effort. By forming a discussion group, you can dig into topics and decide how to establish and shape your collective cultural environment. Because you are learning together, you increase your chances of success because others can hold you accountable. You might also ask for or run into board member recommendations from like-minded peers.
3. Learn your history.
You should not just jump into JEDI initiatives because you’re eager to create change. Start by working to understand why you are fighting to make the workplace more inclusive. Do your research. Learn the histories of different countries to understand the principles behind JEDI better. Gather stories from the past while adjusting for the future. The board members you select should also be familiar with or eager to learn why the world needs more inclusive companies.
Your company is just part of a much larger network of entities working to become more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive. As you learn more and work toward your goals, you can motivate a wave of change across your industry, region, and the world. There’s no better place to start this mission than by finding a board that will challenge and drive your JEDI efforts.