Equalizing opportunities in a team – how to create an inclusive work environment?

Changes in the labor market (including the needs and expectations of Generation Z and the implementation of EU directives) require employers to consider reorganization. This reorganization is largely related to the creation of diverse teams managed by inclusive leaders.

DEI is not just diversity

DEI (Diversity – Equality – Inclusion) represents values that have existed and been implemented for years. However, due to changes in the labor market, they are once again in the spotlight. While we are familiar with all of these values, we often focus only on one component of DEI, which is diversity. We can hire people of different ages, genders, and experiences, creating a diverse workplace. However, if we stop at that, we cannot claim that we have considered all elements of DEI. Only when we ensure fair treatment of employees, equal opportunities for success, the inclusion of all voices, and everyone’s influence on the organization, will we create not only a diverse but also an inclusive work environment. That should be our priority.

Equalizing opportunities for employees, so what does it entail?

To create a diverse, equal, and inclusive work environment, we must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed. This involves impartiality, aligning tasks and goals with individual abilities, and creating a workplace where everyone feels included, where employees know they can share their thoughts and ideas without judgment or negative consequences, and where they feel secure. It is not just about preventing discrimination but also about educating employees and showing them how each one of them contributes to the organization.

Equalizing opportunities for employees includes, among other things:

  • Fair and equal salary levels based on competencies, regardless of gender or background.
  • Equal chances for career development and advancement.
  • Valuing competencies and knowledge rather than job positions.
  • Supporting growth and promotions.
  • Easy access to leaders at various levels.

Equalizing opportunities within a team also means recognizing that we differ not only in terms of gender, background, or work experience but also in terms of neurodiversity and individual needs, such as breaks frequency or office equipment. It is worth taking care of these seemingly insignificant elements as well.

What about the wroking parents?

Equalizing opportunities in a team also entails supporting parental equality and a partnership model of family. We understand that there is no such thing as “helping with the child,” and that both parents have the same rights and responsibilities. However, women still tend to be the ones who stay at home. This is not only due to the gender pay gap (it is more financially beneficial for men to work because they earn more), but also due to stigma. Many people still can’t imagine a situation where a man “stays at home with the child.”

61.9 percent of fathers who participated in the study conducted by the “Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę” Foundation in “Dad 2022: Report on the study of Polish fathers” declared that they took paternity leave, and 55.2 percent stated that they took parental leave. However, according to data from the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), fathers accounted for only one percent of individuals using parental leave in 2021. In a study conducted by Deloitte in 2016, 54 percent of respondents indicated that coworkers would judge a man more than a woman who took the same amount of parental leave.

 

 

Equalizing opportunities for employee-parents is an essential part of DEI in an organization. It includesvarious aspects, not only equal pay or equal access to parental leave but also what happens afterward. It involves the professional reintegration of people returning to work, the location where tasks are performed, and employee leave policies. It is not just about regulations but also about increasing employees’ awareness and creating a friendly environment, rather than a place where people look at each other and think, “He is a parent, so he is guaranteed leave during vacations.” Inclusive leaders must listen to everyone and ensure that no one feels disadvantaged.

Inclusive leadership – it pays off

Inclusive leadership is the ability to manage diverse teams. It involves being aware of our own biases and biased behaviors, a willingness to learn, and the ability to admit mistakes. Inclusive leaders treat people fairly, utilize their skills and experiences, and base their actions on individual characteristics rather than generalizations. Their actions not only empower individuals but also contribute to the success of the organization.

 

Inclusive leadership and all values related to DEI are highly important in the context of ESG, particularly its social aspect. Human capital becomes the pillar of modern business, something that not only organizations subject to mandatory ESG reporting (currently 150 companies, estimated to be around 3,500 by 2026) should consider. ESG is an opportunity for business, so it is worth making changes. These changes will bring numerous benefits, including not only improved financial results but also better perception by people.

If you are unsure where to start, Helping Hand can assist you in taking care of your people. “S” is our domain. We can help you define the factors worth focusing on, provide diversity and inclusion training, develop soft skills of leaders, and more. Together, we can create a diverse and, most importantly, inclusive work environment.

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