By Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell
Building an inclusive workplace requires more than just good intentions; it demands active accountability for our own behaviors and actions. To create a truly inclusive environment, we must hold ourselves accountable for fostering a culture that values diversity, respects differences, and embraces equity.
Although it can be easier to hold others accountable, our DEI journey begins with examining our own behaviors. As we explore the importance of personal accountability in promoting inclusive behaviors, I will offer some practical strategies you can use to actively contribute to an equitable workplace.
Developing self-awareness is crucial for holding ourselves accountable. Regularly reflect on your thoughts, beliefs, and actions, considering how they may contribute to inclusivity or perpetuate biases. Note that we all have implicit bias, which refers to unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that influence our perceptions and actions. Recognizing that everyone has implicit biases is the first step toward accountability. Examine your assumptions and prejudices, and seek feedback from others. Cultivating self-awareness helps identify areas for growth and prompts us to make intentional choices that promote inclusivity.
Reflect on Impact and Intent
Accountability involves reflecting on the impact of our actions, irrespective of our intentions. Recognize that even well-intentioned actions can have unintended consequences. When called out for mistakes or insensitive behavior, take responsibility, apologize sincerely and learn from the experience. Reflecting on the impact of our actions allows us to grow and make more informed choices in the future. Personal accountability is a vital component of creating an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Continuously Educate and Learn
Inclusion is an ongoing learning process. Commit to continuous education by seeking out resources, workshops, and training on topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Stay informed about social issues and current events that impact marginalized communities. By deepening our understanding, we can challenge stereotypes, expand our perspectives, and engage in more inclusive conversations.
Practice Active Listening and Empathy
Active listening and empathy are critical skills for fostering inclusion. Actively listen to others, giving them your full attention and seeking to understand their experiences and perspectives. Empathy allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, acknowledging their emotions and validating their experiences.
Be an Ally and Advocate
Hold yourself accountable for being an ally and advocate for marginalized individuals and communities. Stand up against discriminatory practices, biases, and exclusionary policies. Use your privilege and influence to amplify underrepresented voices and champion equitable practices. Actively support diversity initiatives and advocate for inclusive policies within your organization.
By acknowledging implicit biases, fostering self-awareness, continuously learning, practicing active listening and empathy, being an ally and advocate, and reflecting on the impact of our actions, we can hold ourselves accountable for promoting inclusive behaviors. Through our individual commitment to inclusion, we contribute to a collective effort that cultivates an equitable workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to thrive.
Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell
Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell has been helping organizations and leaders become more effective and inclusive through her engaging diversity and inclusion professional learning sessions, leadership development programs, and equity & cultural proficiency coaching for almost two decades.
Gilmara has worked with HR managers, chief diversity officers, and other leaders to create more inclusive work environments. Gilmara has collaborated with organizations from the private and public sectors in various industries. Gilmara has supported organizations to develop strategic plans, create equity-driven monitoring tools, create inclusive cultures, and learn about equity-driven leadership.
Born in Brazil, Gilmara moved to the United States in 2001. She holds a Bachelor of Multicultural Education from FUMEC University (Brazil) and an MSE in School Counseling from Drake University. Gilmara has focused on her doctoral studies in Organizational Behavior with a focus on trust in the workplace.