Imagine a space where anyone regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, age, ability and more can exist as their full authentic self; a diverse space fostered by a culture of inclusion where everyone belongs.
Now imagine that you’ve created this space where your business flourishes, your employee(s), contractors and network of business contacts bring their best most authentic selves to work and your clients feel seen, understood and satisfied with the services and product you’ve provided.
Creating a safe space within your business is necessary for continued growth and success.
With over 20 years of experience as a multi-hyphenate woman of color working as an executive assistant and administrator in tech, I have experienced first-hand the power of fostering a culture of equity and belonging. In addition to my role as the executive assistant to the co-founders of HoneyBook, I also co-lead our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employee resource group (ERG).
Over the years, I have seen how employees and businesses can fail or flourish based on whether or not inclusion is valued. As an executive assistant, everyone I interact with from the CEO of HoneyBook to our newest member is a client. I see myself as a service provider and being able to create an inclusive experience with incredibly diverse clientele is what I do every day.
Here are five ways you can create an inclusive experience for your clients and employees.
Educate Yourself and Your Team
If you’re reading this, you’re already taking this step. This is a journey of learning that is constantly evolving. There are many different resources available to you from free blog posts, online courses, workshops, podcasts, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and so much more. Set up a cadence of continued education for you, current employees and future ones e.g. (onboarding training).
Make a Commitment to Inclusivity
Creating inclusive experiences takes a lot of work and commitment. It may seem challenging at first, it may even feel disruptive. It’s hard work and sometimes the wins are small, but they add up. The impact it has on your business, your employees and the community you serve will be immense. Committing may look like: a public road map and accountability to the clients you serve as well as a financial commitment to ongoing education.
Define What Inclusivity Means to You and Your Business
Set policies and guidelines and a plan for how to enforce them. Then, publish your guidelines publicly and actively share them so everyone from your contractors to your clients is on the same page.
Pro Tip: While diversity and inclusion go hand in hand they are two very different things. Without inclusion, there is no diversity. You can have a diverse customer base, but it doesn’t mean that every one of those customers has had an inclusive experience with you and your business.
Audit Your Business
Deep dive into your business to ensure that what you’ve defined is practiced in every part of your business. This includes the systems and platforms you use to do business. Review your marketing materials, the language used on your websites and in your copy. Ask yourself: would anyone regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, age, ability feel that they have access to your services and would be comfortable working with you?
Here are some areas to consider:
- Are you openly sharing and using pronouns on your website or published content?
- Ask for your client’s pronouns in your contact form.
- Have you offered other means of communication other than tech-driven conversations?
- Does your website reflect diversity?
- Do your captions on your social media videos, reels and other content?
If through this process you make a mistake, own it, apologize for it and take action to make sure it never happens again. Let me be clear though so you don’t feel like giving up if you make a mistake: you will likely make a mistake.
You might not make the same one twice, but there will be mistakes along the way. Communities are dynamic and evolve (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly). This means we should be open to continued opportunities to learn and grow to better serve the spaces we facilitate and occupy.
Taking these steps to create inclusive experiences is fearless, empowering and necessary
When we shift the way we do business and take chances we impact the industries we work in and create tangible change. By empowering ourselves to make these changes, we encourage others to show up as their full authentic selves.
This is your opportunity to make a difference and help create a more diverse and inclusive world. If you ever have questions or need support, reach out. There’s a whole community waiting to support you.