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Getting Started with Equity at Work

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

What is Equity at Work?

We’re talking about equal opportunity within the workplace to engage, participate, be recognized, and more. Many leaders and human resources organizations are focused on pay equity as a measurement of their equity strategies. But equity is bigger than that (and smaller – keep reading to get my meaning).


Equity or inequity can happen every day. In all our interactions at work.






Have you ever noticed that someone on your team or a leader gets all the special projects? What about promotions and raises? Are there specific limitations like someone’s education or ability to work longer hours that impact these decisions?


We also can’t forget the influence we all have by our society and culture in how we view equity. Our expectations of others are highly impacted by systemic oppressions and portrayals that depict people of different identities, genders, races, as different and inferior.


To make a big impact on equity, focus on the day to day experiences of your team and how you engage with others in the workplace.


Change requires intentional energy. And all it takes are small actions repeated over time to create a ripple effect across your organization.


Equity is everyone’s responsibility.


Your new mantra: Equity. Every. Day.


Start with Yourself

Self-awareness and empathy are keys to taking action in equity work.


Let’s start with a quick visualization.


Imagine a time when you’ve been excluded from an opportunity at work. Maybe you weren’t invited to a meeting, your ideas weren’t listened to, or your contributions weren’t recognized.


How did that feel?


Perhaps you felt small, unimportant. It felt unfair, and you wanted to take action but didn’t know where to start. You felt helpless. It seemed like it would always be this way.


If you keep feeling this way, over and over, you’re not going to be able to stand it. It won’t feel worth it.


And that’s when you start looking for ways to get yourself out of this situation. You look for jobs and hope that things are better somewhere else.


Do you want your team to feel like their only option is to leave and find a new job?



Define and Share Your Intentions


Now that you know how it feels to experience inequity and exclusion, you can start to define your intentions as a leader in the workplace.


How do you want your team to feel each day? How do you want your team to see you?


Take a moment to write down statements that describe your ideal team atmosphere, your leadership style, and your relationships at work.





You might write:

My team feels comfortable sharing openly with me their ideas, needs, concerns, and how I can help.

My team sees me as a fair, honest leader who supports each of them equally.


When you are clear on your intentions, then you can choose what actions you’ll take to bring your intentions to life.


Next, you’ve got to share those intentions with your team. Tell them how you want them to feel at work, what kind of leader you’re striving to be, and what team atmosphere you’re aiming for.


Don’t tell them just once. Keep repeating it. Repetition helps you stay focused on your goal. But more importantly, repetition helps your team begin to slowly trust and change their expectations of you.


Representation. Access. Opportunity.


You know your intentions. You’ve shared them with your team. Now what?


It’s time for action.


Equity. Every. Day.


If you don’t know where to start, focus on these themes: representation, access, and opportunity.


Here’s a few examples of how to access equity through representation, access, and opportunity.


Representation. Who is at the table when decisions are made? Looking for ways to include more perspectives is a start to more equitable meetings, decisions, and teams.


Access. Does your team have what resources or information they need to complete their work? Identify any places where information is siloed, and take steps to share access with everyone on your team.


Opportunity. How does work get assigned? What about special projects? We tend to lean on our top performers for all crucial tasks and assume they’re the only ones who can get it done. This isn’t equity. Everyone on your team deserves the chance to explore their skills through special projects and opportunities that help them learn and grow.





Going Deeper


Now you can see that Equity doesn’t have to be this giant effort, full of legal policies, and exhaustive procedures. You can take quick actions today to bring equity into your teams and workplaces.


I’ve shared some generic ideas about what almost every leader and team needs to get to equity.


If you’re ready to show your team you are listening to their needs, check out my free guide: Taking Action Every Day for Equity & Inclusion: A How-To-Guide to Uncover Your Teams Needs & Actions that Get Results.


If you felt any resistance or worries come up for you while reading this blog, let’s get you into a coaching session for some more support. Save $100 off your first session!

 

Katie is an expert executive coach and business consultant. 15 years incorporate environments from small companies (50 employees) to large companies (thousands).

Throughout her career she’s built expertise in organizational change, building curriculum for transformative learning programs, and unpacking adult behavior and motivation. Katie earned two Horizon Awards for her trainings, supported software implementations with robust change management programs, and developed countless onboarding and development programs for Sales, Customer Service, leaders and other roles.

Katie founded McLaughlin Method to fill the gap(s) of the traditional approach to training leaders, building teams, and creating company / organizational culture. She uses trauma-informed, advocacy-based theatre exercises within all programming. Katie's clients improve skills vastly lacking in organizations today: empathy and emotional intelligence. She knows we only build a better world one interaction at a time.


Learn more about McLaughlin Method programming and Katie's work with leaders, teams, and companies, at www.mclaughlinmethod.com


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Getting Started with Equity at Work resource provides practical strategies and actionable steps to address systemic biases, promote diversity, and ensure fair opportunities for all employees.


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