[How to diversify your team] – Tip #2 Welcoming diversity
If you’ve applied the tips I gave in the previous article, you should now have several new female recruits! The question now is how to integrate them into the different departments. How do you ensure that they enjoy working in their respective teams? That’s what we’ll look at together in today’s article.
Let’s start with welcoming new recruits
1. Choosing the team
If you are in an industry that hires a majority of men, taking care of the composition of new teams can be a trickier task than it seems. How do you ensure that your new female hires will feel comfortable in the departments they will be joining?
Whenever possible, it is best to place a female employee in a team with one or more other female colleagues. Being the only (or even the first) woman in an all-male group can be very intimidating, especially for someone who is not used to it. So contrary to what one might think, it is better to group women together than to try to cover as many departments as possible by placing them one by one.
2. A welcoming workplace
Another “basic” tip is to make sure that the environment is welcoming. For example, you can start by removing calendars or other posters of naked women (a situation I was regularly confronted with when I started working on oil rigs)… More seriously, as I’m assuming that this is now a thing of the past, it is better to check that what is displayed is not offensive, even under the pretence of humor – the infamous humor that excuses everything.
3. A successful first day at work
Next, welcoming the new hire will play a determining role. First impressions are difficult to change. It is therefore important to prepare the arrival of the new employee. At the very least, you should go around the department to introduce the newcomer, explain the roles of each person and also plan meetings with the people who will be able to help her in her mission. This is part of the general good practices, which many people already apply. Another good practice is to appoint a reference person to whom the new recruit can turn for any question, and especially to make sure that this person is favourable to the arrival of diversity in his or her department.
But, as usual, it would be too easy to stop at a welcoming workplace and a successful first day. It is absolutely necessary to make sure that the team spirit is truly inclusive and to do so, you must not tolerate any sexist remarks.
This requires combating ordinary sexism, which is at the heart of the problem, but I will not address here, as it will benefit from a future dedicated article.
So, you will have to act proactively to ensure that the first impression made through your good preparation and welcome is confirmed over time.
First of all, the only acceptable tolerance on the subject of sexism is zero tolerance. The basic principle is to not let anything get past you. Indeed, it starts with a little joke, then you get used to it, and it drifts easily. The question is then to decide what is acceptable or not. Zero tolerance helps to avoid dilemmas and will make everyone’s life easier.
Second, it is not enough to rely on management or other women to ensure that everyone behaves properly. While it is important that the tone be set and that the company publicly express its inclusive policy, it is everyone’s responsibility to enforce it.
One method that has been used with some success is unconscious bias training. I am one of those people who believes that most of these behaviors are due to ignorance rather than actual malice. Let’s give everyone a chance to learn and understand what can be done to behave better.
Finally, don’t hesitate to repeat things that should be obvious… Because if they were really obvious, I wouldn’t have to write these articles!
In conclusion, with the proper preparation, the arrival of your new female recruits in your department can only go well. It is important to pay attention to the behaviors of different team members and to intervene when they are likely to create an uncomfortable climate, so that all of us in our respective companies can work in pleasant and respectful conditions. And considering the amount of time we all spend at work, it would be a lot nicer!
If this seems so complicated that you’re wondering: “Why bother? “, tell yourself that it usually doesn’t last long and that the atmosphere will only be better in the end for everybody.