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A comfortable seat at the table

A culture of diversity, trust, and belonging is how you avoid being just another corporate hellhole.

June 28, 2024

Dominique Middleton

Strategist and Head of DEI Committee

As a Black woman, it’s not always easy to feel comfortable in offices and at agencies. You don’t always know if you’re walking into a place where someone has set  the table for you to enjoy the meal and conversation. But one thing that will convince you is the word of another Black woman. I was referred to Codeword by a Black woman and I’ve since referred two Black women. And, that, my friends, is a testament to a culture of comfort and trust.  

It says that our agency isn’t just a workplace; it’s a community where diversity thrives, where we can bring our whole selves, our families, our best friends, and know they’ll be valued not just for their skills but for their unique perspectives. No matter the size of your company, creating a workplace that nurtures trust, diversity, and growth will set you on the right path. So, as we’ve just wrapped Black History Month, let’s take a moment to reflect on the steps you can take to improve your DEI culture:

  1. Set the table with trust: Trust is the foundation of any inclusive culture. To nurture this atmosphere, it’s vital to actively create spaces where employees feel encouraged to speak up without fear of judgment. This could entail regular open forums, inclusive leadership training, and ensuring transparent communication channels. Additionally, sharing anecdotes that illustrate how diverse voices have shaped company policies or projects can demonstrate the tangible impact of embracing diverse perspectives on the organization’s success.
  2. Experiment with the menu: Innovation in DEI requires a willingness to try new approaches. This might mean hosting events that celebrate different cultures, implementing diverse hiring practices, or exploring alternative work arrangements to accommodate various needs and lifestyles. By broadening the ‘menu,’ you acknowledge and respect your team’s unique backgrounds and preferences. Illustrate the effectiveness of such initiatives through examples, like mentorship programs that pair employees from different levels and backgrounds or team-building activities that embrace cultural diversity. Encourage continuous  experimentation.
  3. Cue conversation starters: Ask your whole team how DEI is going and respond with action. Encourage a culture where it’s safe to discuss and address awkward moments or misunderstandings. Routine DEI workshops, anonymous feedback tools, or dedicated channels for discussing workplace culture could facilitate this. Celebrate breakthrough moments and understanding, ensuring that strides towards inclusivity are recognized and built upon. By upholding transparent communication and being responsive to feedback, you create a continuous improvement loop, keeping the momentum of DEI initiatives alive.
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