Building inclusive workplaces
Posted on 29th January 2024 at 11:21
Steven Pink's guest on the Unlocking Workplace Wellbeing podcast this week is Laura Mathias who is - in her own words - big, bold and embracing it. She speaks candidly about the impact that her alopecia (and, importantly, other people's reaction to it) has had on her so far, with both good and bad experiences.
Fostering an inclusive culture is not only crucial for the emotional wellbeing of a person, it sets the tone for the entire culture of the businesses - Laura has some strong views for how leaders and managers can put in practical and intentional approaches to move from tick-box to authentic action.
Laura's story in the workplace relates to her visible difference as a bald woman - but we hope podcast listeners will also find inspiration for how they support employees with other differences, whether physical, emotional or perhaps faith-based.
As HR managers or business owners, you'll know the importance of fairness for all your team. But does the whole team understand the impact of visible differences and how to approach and support respectfully and inclusively?
Throughout the conversation, Laura reveals her journey to self-acceptance and the transformative impact of finding a supportive community. Laura's journey began with two decades of concealing her hair loss, wearing wigs, and feeling terrified to talk about her condition. As she navigated the boundaries between her personal and professional life, she discovered the liberating power of being unapologetically true to herself.
As business owners and leaders, there is much that we can take from Laura's experience - here are some points relating to new starters:
👉 Be mindful of the language and context/timing of conversations. Curiosity about a colleague is natural, but there is a difference between curiosity and intrusion.
👉 The onboarding experience should be welcoming and supportive for all employees, promoting a culture of respect, understanding, and empathy, and offering resources that cater to diverse needs.
👉 In recruitment and hiring, create a framework where all applicants feel comfortable and empowered to disclose any needs. This includes removing biases, ensuring a fair and equal opportunity for all candidates, and not making assumptions based on appearance.
Creating an inclusive workplace that embraces everyone requires promoting awareness, understanding, and sensitivity while fostering an environment where individuals are valued for their contributions.
We are grateful to Laura for this important conversation.
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