Imagine your team is gathered in a conference room, brainstorming ways to fix a pressing problem. The group starts to converge on an idea, when an easier and far more cost-effective solution pops into your head.
But instead of saying something, you immediately second-guess yourself. You’ve never felt very comfortable being yourself around your coworkers, and you’ve seen them quickly shut down dissenting opinions. You’re afraid that if you say something, you’ll forever be seen as a downer.
You decide it’s safest to stay quiet.
At Humu, we know that diverse teams come up with better solutions only when a culture of inclusion exists. If employees don’t feel safe speaking up, they begin to see their uniqueness as a hindrance rather than as an asset, and shy away from engaging in the exchange of ideas that drives innovation, performance, and improved business outcomes.
That’s why we’ve spent the past few months building a product specifically designed to help organizations increase inclusion (creating an inclusive culture is also just morally the right thing to do). We’re thrilled by the early signs of success we’ve seen, and will be sharing more in the coming months.
In the meantime, here are three scientifically-backed steps you can take to ensure everyone on your team feels valued, heard, and empowered to succeed.
Act as an ally
One of the best ways to create an inclusive culture is to use your position (or power) to support those who might feel less comfortable raising their voices. In a previous job, Humu engineer Daniel Worku, who sported a large afro at the time, was singled out by three security guards and asked to show his employee badge. One of his coworkers overheard the commotion and stepped in: “Here — you should check my badge too!” he said with a smile. By using his privilege, he gently made the implicit discrimination explicit—and helped Daniel feel included.
Start with the personal
Sharing more about your life outside of work with your colleagues can increase belonging and happiness on the job. When People Scientist Schinria Islam first started at Humu, she quickly bonded with other members of our team by discussing her favorites songs in the #music Slack channel.
Thank a team member
A great way to build stronger relationships with your teammates is to recognize those who put in the extra effort to make work better for everyone. Head of Security Bryan Zimmer was touched when the Humu co-founders gave him and his team gift certificates to say thank you for coordinating the move to our new office. Bonus: your actions will make them more likely to pay the gratitude forward!
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers
Each month, we pick a question from a reader and offer tactical tips on how to handle their work-related issue. (If you’d like advice, let us know by replying to this email!) Christine wrote in to ask: As a manager, how can I identify the best ways to step in and help my team?
This month’s answer comes from Wharton Professor, best-selling author, and Humu advisor Adam Grant. “The first step is to try to pay more attention to other people’s problems and pain,” he told us. “Ask, ‘What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?’” More from Adam up on our blog.
What’s happening at Humu:
October was Hispanic Heritage month! We celebrated by gathering together for a panel discussion in which several Latinx members of our team spoke about how their journeys have shaped who they are today. We’re grateful to everyone who opened up, and excited to share a few of their stories with you.
Also in October: Four members of our team headed to this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration, Smartbrief covered our stance on why culture should be at the top of every corporate agenda, our CEO Laszlo Bock spoke to Inc. about the secret to putting together a stellar resume, engineer Sophie Albert demystified the ReactDOM renderer by livecoding on stage at this year’s React Conference, and I (Liz Fosslien) spoke to The Ladders about how to set—and achieve—great goals.
On the speaking front, catch engineer Jose Alberto Rodriguez at Cal NERDS, People Scientist Tom Skiba and Partner Happiness Executive Mark Oshima at Gartner’s Workforce Management Research Board Meeting, People Scientist Schinria Islam discussing how technology facilitates employee experiences as part of a New Talent Management Network panel, and Marieke McCloskey, who heads up our UX research efforts, leading a breakout session at this year’s Women in Product conference.See you in December!Liz for the Humu Team