Steps to creating inclusive workplaces

by Karen Burbach, UNMC strategic communications | June 15, 2021

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Creating workplaces where everyone feels heard, valued and seen is difficult and complex. It requires being the allies we want to be for our work colleagues - and, it is necessary to create lasting and meaningful change.

That was the take-away from June's "Conversations for Inclusive Excellence," hosted by the UNMC Office of Inclusion.

Sheritta Strong, MD, director of inclusion, said individual kindnesses and efforts collectively affect cultural change in an organization. An ally or accomplice not only hears, sees and values every individual, she said, but also takes action to stand with others when they come across the opportunity.

The nearly 80 participants heard from diversity and inclusion strategist Daisy Auger-Dominguez, who has made it her mission to make workplaces more equitable and inclusive. As chief people officer at VICE Media Group (VMG), she shapes, builds and reinforces the culture of teams; promotes professional growth, engagement and development; helps accelerate business performance; and champions equitable and inclusive people, culture and corporate social responsibility practices.

Watch her TedTalk titled "Inclusion Revolution" and hear how a colleague became her ally and advocate by helping her overcome anxieties related to performance due to stereotypes.

To create workplace fairness, equity, justice and inclusion, Auger-Domìnguez said organizations must:

  • Hold up a mirror - See and acknowledge the truth that's reflected.
  • Act on what you learn - Awareness without action means nothing, she said. Recognize your personal, cultural and systemic sore spots and reflect on your identity in relationship to someone else. Ask for feedback, she said, that you may not want to hear and consider "what will you do if you witness bias or you learn you have been perpetuating the bias?"
  • Persist despite your discomfort - "Privilege is the ability to look away and not act when confronted with your bias and complicity," she said. "Sitting in awareness is not enough; one must act through the discomfort."

View the challenge, question and discussion prompts for June.