On Toxic Workplace Cultures and Inclusive Job Descriptions

October 2, 2019

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Requiring students to ante up conference funds up front without the hope of being reimbursed for months makes academia less welcoming for scientists who are financially disadvantaged.” — Jessica Sagers, on how academia disregards low-income students.
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THE STORY

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that businesses have lost a quarter of a trillion dollars over the last five years. The reason? High employee turnover as a result of toxic workplace culture. According to the report, 76 percent of employees say their managers determine workplace culture, but 40 percent say their managers don’t usually engage them in “honest work conversations.”

Lauren Anderson of NY Tech Talent Pipeline says companies know culture is important. The challenge, however,“...is the inability to see when policies perpetuate a culture.” She suggests that companies look at internal policies to see how they may work against diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Our Take

Building inclusive culture requires commitment from all stakeholders and a willingness to honestly examine existing policies. For instance, if leadership says they want to build inclusive culture, but members of the C-suite keep hiring based on “fit,” the culture could remain toxic.

How It Affects You

To assess your workplace culture, ask yourself these questions to start: Is management committed to fostering an inclusive culture? Are our workplace policies in line with our diversity and inclusion goals?

THE STORY

We’ve talked about using inclusive language in marketing and recruitment materials before. But did you know there are other steps you can take to make job descriptions inclusive? For instance, consider sticking to “must-have” qualifications over a long list of “nice-to-haves.” That way, women may be more likely to apply, even if they don’t meet 100% of the requirements. You can also opt to use more universal language, like “detail-oriented,” over corporate jargon that may exclude younger applicants, like “KPIs” and “procurement”.

On Toxic Workplace Cultures and Inclusive Job Descriptions

And beyond stating that you’re an “equal opportunity employer,” consider including a company-specific diversity statement. Likewise, you can demonstrate your commitment to inclusion by mentioning initiatives and benefits like mentorship programs for minority-group employees and paid parental leave.

OUR TAKE

Posting inclusive job descriptions is one of the first steps towards building a more diverse workforce. Tools like Gender Decoder and Textio Hire can help you avoid using biased or gendered language in your recruitment materials.

How It Affects You

Let’s take it beyond inclusive job descriptions. Consider your everyday paperwork, posters around your office, even the language you use in interviews and meetings. How can you foster inclusion in areas we often take for granted?

On Toxic Workplace Cultures and Inclusive Job Descriptions

THE STORY

A new report from Race Forward captures implicit bias in media coverage of employment outcomes like hiring, retention, and earnings. The researchers analyzed news reports and determined how many stories used individualist versus systemic framing to explain work outcomes. Individualist framing looks at individual employees and how their work ethic and other personal characteristics negatively impact outcomes. On the other hand, systemic framing points to systemic patterns, like a lack of resources, to explain those same outcomes.

The researchers say systemic framing is more accurate because it accounts for discrimination and disparities in areas like education and transportation.

OUR TAKE

We find the systemic versus individualist framework to be an effective cognitive tool. It helps us account for alternative explanations and solutions, which leads to less biased decision-making.

How It Affects You

The concept of systemic versus individualist framing is useful in most work contexts. When you find yourself turning to an employee or student’s personal characteristics to explain negative outcomes, consider if there could be a systemic explanation. Are there things you can do to alleviate the burden of these systems on your employees and students?

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