Building an Inclusive Work Environment — Let’s Talk About D&I

by Meghan Buckman

Bay Area Diversity and Inclusion leaders guided students, recent graduates and working professionals in a conversation at eBay headquarters in San Jose on Thursday, August 27.

PRSA Silicon Valley introduced six panelists to the stage to share their own experiences and viewpoints of what makes a workplace inclusive. They covered an array of topics, from hiring  and promotion processes to analyzing the importance of work culture.

It’s time to shift the attention of work culture and diversity to the forefront — too often put to the side. It’s important to construct conversations and workshops surrounding inclusiveness that will ultimately help strengthen your company’s needs and values.

“Some people take equality as a threat to privilege. We need to change the narrative and show people that equity and equality actually improve the business,” said Global Head of Belonging, Inclusion and Experience at Coinbase, Tariq Meyers.

Meyers emphasized that focusing on your employees’ needs and comfort is a beneficial factor for improvement in the workplace. Observing and speaking your mind can make a valuable difference, whether you are a CEO or intern.

While “Building the Future Workforce with Diversity and Inclusion” will not happen overnight, the next wave of talented professionals are ready to implement better hiring and employee retention practices.

“I learned that it is okay to force the topic of diversity into conversations in the workplace because it is so often ignored. People want to ignore it and make it a non-issue, but it is important for those conversations to take place,” said PRSSA Director of PR, Emily Van Muijen.

Muijen addressed that even if employees do not feel the implications of lacking diversity and inclusion practices personally, it is important to be attentive to the tone and environment of the workplace around them. Connecting and compromising with others, even  half-way can benefit companies as employees may feel safe and heard.

“Like all the panelists had mentioned, it’s more than just seeing diverse faces but knowing that the work culture is productive and is taking action to foster a safe, inclusive environment,” said PRSSA Vice President, Elsa Kebede.

As college students, we often think that our voices can only be heard coming from those in positions of power. Kebede reassured her fellow Spartans that as long as we work hard and speak up when we need to, our opinions will matter.

Setting valuable, attainable goals around diversity and inclusion is the key to your company’s success. In this new political, tense landscape, it is pivotal to change the way we work with each other and combat unconscious bias in order to better foster empathy and progress in a team environment.