Inclusive workplaces offer benefits

Carlene Goldthwaite

When justice advocate Jane Elliott speaks to audiences, she often begins with a request: “I want every white person in this room who would be happy to be treated as this society in general treats our citizens — our black citizens — if you, as a white person, would be happy to receive the same treatment that our black citizens do in this society, please stand.”

Not surprisingly, no one stands. She repeats the instructions two more times with the same result. Setting the foundation for the remainder of her presentation, Elliott ends with a challenge: “Nobody’s standing here. That says very plainly that you know what’s happening, you know you don’t want it for you. I want to know why you’re so willing to accept it or to allow it to happen for others.”
As racial and other inequities have become increasingly visible, society looks to businesses to take an active role in making their workplaces and communities more open, equitable and inclusive. But his work — eliminating racism and other -isms — can seem overwhelming, especially for smaller organizations.
The Western Colorado Human Resource Association recently joined with HUB International to present a workshop in Grand Junction titled “Creating an Inclusive Culture.”

Stacy Backes, a senior human resource consultant with HUB, shared her ideas and tools to help HR professionals, as well as business owners and managers, embark on this journey. For organizations that have already been working on diversity, equity and inclusion, this session offered an opportunity to assess their progress and inform their next steps.

The session provided a foundation of shared terminology and definitions before examining the business case for inclusivity — the financial benefits inclusive organizations enjoy as well as the overt and hidden costs of non-inclusion. Backes encouraged participants to consider different dimensions of diversity and encourage self-exploration to understand how their hidden biases affect their workplaces, colleagues and communities.
The Society for Human Resource Management launched in 2020 an initiative titled “Together Forward @Work” to transform organizational cultures and communities.

A website located at https://togetherforwardatwork.shrm.org provides educational opportunities, research results and best practices.
SHRM challenges its members to create better workplaces in pursuit of a better world. As an affiliate chapter, WCHRA supports and embraces this challenge and ongoing efforts to create more inclusive workplaces.