Have you ever entered a new environment and felt that you stood out, or didn’t fit in?
Women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2+ people, newcomers, visible minorities and persons with disabilities may join a team at your organization where they are the “only one”.
This can lead to feelings of isolation, pressure to “fit in”, and sometimes daily experiences of microaggressions—the subtle, and often unconscious snubs or slights that can demean and devalue an individual.
A study of women in Canadian workplaces36 found that, compared to women working in a more gender-balanced environment, “women onlys” feel less included. They are far more likely to have their abilities challenged, to be subjected to unprofessional and demeaning remarks, and to feel they cannot talk about their personal lives at work. At the VP level, women report being five times more likely than men to have to prove their competence, three times more likely to be addressed in a less-than-professional manner, and three times more likely to hear demeaning remarks.
Creating an empowering work environment, where employees at all levels have the skills to demonstrate and reinforce inclusive behaviours on an everyday basis is critical to countering exclusion.
Are all stakeholders in your organization skilled in the inclusive behaviours required to maintain a positive work environment?