Many of us are in the midst of the 2021 Annual Performance Cycle and having ongoing conversations about how to better unlock and support our employees and teams. Knowing that inclusion is one of the foundational elements of highly engaged and effective teams, it’s also a great time to reflect on DoorDash’s value of Making Room at the Table. But what does inclusion really mean and why does it matter? As a leader, how do you help to build inclusion and truly make room at the table?
Studies show that inclusive environments increase trust and collaboration and drive innovation. When employees feel included they also perform at higher levels and stay at the company longer. At DoorDash, we define inclusion as the act of being included in a system or structure. Inclusion is created in policies, procedures, social norms, language and word choice, etc. Put another way, inclusion is the degree to which organizations embrace all employees and enable them to make meaningful contributions.
There are two separate and distinct experiences that are necessary in order for an employee to feel inclusion: a sense of belonging (e.g. “I feel that I am a valued member of the team”) and that their uniqueness is recognized and appreciated (e.g. “I feel seen and who I am matters here”). Employees can feel as if they belong, but may not feel included if they also have to change who they are or assimilate in order to fit in. On the flipside, an employee may believe their differences are recognized but that they are seen as an outsider because of it.
WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OF INCLUSION?
Before we provide a few ways you can build a more inclusive environment, it’s important to understand what gets in the way. When we’re aware of some of the challenges, we can more actively and intentionally avoid them.
Microaggressions: Microaggressions are defined as “the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.” They are often based on stereotypes and often leave the individual feeling devalued and demoralized. For example, saying to a Black colleague, “you’re so articulate” or asking an Asian colleague, “where are you really from?” Check out a few ways to avoid microaggressions HERE.
Now that you understand the main inhibitors of inclusion, let’s talk a bit about the most essential aspects of inclusive environments:
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A LEADER?
As leaders, we often think that in order to build and drive inclusion, we have to make major changes or take big swings, when in reality, inclusion happens in our every-day actions, consistently over time. Here are some tactical ways leaders can model inclusion:
Reinforce inclusive behavior through feedback and allocation of rewards. Ask each team member to commit to a tangible (and observable) inclusive practice.
|Non-Inclusive Behaviors||Inclusive Behaviors|
|Not acknowledging or downplaying someone’s contributions|
Interrupting or cutting others off
Showing little interest in someone’s ideas or opinions
Dominating the conversation
|Making others feel welcome|
Showing genuine concern
Resolving conflicts effectively
Willingness to help one another
Standing up for one another
Giving others the benefit of the doubt
Being critical of underlying assumptions
About the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Digest:
Increasing representation of underrepresented talent and creating a space for all employees to thrive continues to be an industry challenge. As we strive to build more diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities within our company, industry, and cities, we are committed to sharing best practices, learnings, and insights through this ongoing series created by our DEI team.