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From The Playground To The Workplace – How To Promote Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion – Were You Picked First Or Last?

Written by: Jamie McKinney, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Jamie McKinney

Remember the feeling of standing on the playground waiting to be picked for the team? Anxiously hoping one of the captains would call out your name. I was never the first one picked, nor the last, yet always so relieved to hear my name called, solidifying that I had a place. I belonged.

Laughing businesspeople standing arm in arm in an office hallway

As adults, the classic playground scene is often marked as one of the first times we experienced the feelings of inclusion or exclusion. Of being on the inside or the outside, accepted or rejected. Today, as psychology teaches us, a sense of belonging and inclusion is not merely desirable but essential for survival in personal and professional environments. Companies that take this to heart and embrace inclusivity repeatedly prove that not only is it the right thing to do, it is a wise business decision too.

An article published in Harvard Business Review suggests that in addition to a healthy increase to morale, millions of dollars are saved. “When you add up a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% decrease in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days, estimates show over $52 million is saved at companies with 10,000 employees.” The math equates to $5,200 per employee!

That brings me to International Women's Day and why I am particularly supportive of this year’s theme: "Inspire Inclusion." Mark your calendar for March 8th, a day dedicated to celebrating women's inclusion and promoting a culture of belonging, relevance, and empowerment for all. (And see below for an exclusive offer!)

Join the movement to inspire inclusion at the playground, er, workplace, as a leader or an individual contributor by acting on the following ideas.

5 Actions leaders can take to inspire inclusion 

1. Promote diversity in leadership. Do not settle for the handful of resumes sitting in front of you. Actively seek out and interview women and marginalized groups from diverse backgrounds for leadership positions.

2. Provide diversity and inclusion awareness training. Implement training programs for employees and leaders to increase awareness of unconscious bias and promote inclusive behaviors. Clearly define and prohibit microaggressions. 

3. Establish (Reverse) mentorship programs. Create mentorship opportunities for women and marginalized groups to receive guidance and support from seasoned colleagues and include reverse mentoring to ensure two-way conversations and learning. 

4. Build visibility of diversity. Acknowledge and celebrate cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity through events, recognition programs, and inclusive language. 

5. Measure and monitor progress. Be intentional about driving an organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Set a goal for a certain number of events, training opportunities, or activities along with attendance and participation at such events. Regularly track and monitor engagement to ensure meaningful progress. 

5 Actions individuals can take to design their own inclusion 

1. Challenge and educate yourself. Reflect on personal biases and actively seek education about diverse cultures, identities, and experiences to broaden your understanding of inclusivity. Do you know what holidays your colleagues celebrate? Spark a water cooler conversation to learn more.

2. Speak up and ask curious questions. When encountering discrimination or bias, address it directly. If uncomfortable, start with questions like “Can you help me understand…” or “May I offer a different perspective to highlight a concern…”

3. Challenge stereotypes. Question and challenge stereotypes and assumptions about gender, race, and other identities, both internally and in conversations with others. I like starting with two of Byron Katie’s four questions for liberating your thoughts. First, ask yourself, “Is [your current belief] true?” Then challenge your belief a second time by asking, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?” 

4. Support diverse voices. Amplify the voices of women and marginalized groups by giving credit for their work, and siting their ideas, accomplishments, and perspectives with others. 

5. Be an ally. Tap into your intuition to seek out those who may be quiet, reserved, or shy in meetings. Offer your support as an ally who will support another’s participation in meetings.

6. Bonus idea! Ask the person the least like you at work for coffee. Come prepared with a few questions and let the conversation unfold. Adapt the ‘5 Non-Awkward Questions’ list found in Tool 2 in one of my previous blog posts. 

What’ll it be? Who will it be? You’re up, team captain and it’s time to choose which step you will take today. When you take empowered action not only do you increase inclusivity, but you also elevate yourself and those affected by your efforts to a higher sense of belonging. A single small step, one act of conscious kindness, or a supportive comment can genuinely have a life-changing impact. Be the person who chooses to support others, whether on the playground or in the boardroom and make a difference today.

Exclusive offer! Available on March 8th and March 12th only...a free Copy of my E-Book, Speak Up, Sister! Follow this link to unlock a free copy...for you or a friend!

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and visit my website for more info!

Jamie McKinney Brainz Magazine

Jamie McKinney, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jamie Dandar McKinney, MBA, is an award-winning coach and the best-selling author of Speak Up, Sister! The Professional Woman's Guide to Confidence and Success. Recognized as an Emerging Training Leader and a Top Woman in Energy, Jamie jokes that her stilettos have steel toes. After two decades in male-dominated industries, Jamie mastered building confidence as deliberately as building muscle and leading with authenticity. Through her dynamic programs—The 3 Pillars of Leadership and Speak UP to Level UP®—she empowers you to ditch doubts, amplify your voice, and propel your career. Get ready for results with Coach Jamie championing you!



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