In recent years, discussions around workplace culture and gender diversityhave taken center stage. Employees and managers alike have begun to voice their corporate stories and experiences relating to exclusion or insecurity. Creating a safe and inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business owing to several different reasons.
Employees who feel valued and included are more engaged, productive, consistent, and motivated. However, building a truly inclusive workplace is easier said than done. This is often due to biases projected by employees without their knowledge. Microaggressions can often go unnoticed or unaddressed, leading to an uncomfortable or hostile work environment. That’s where executive coaching can help.
A study by Deloitte found that organizations with an inclusive culture are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets as compared to organizations without inclusive cultures. Furthermore, a survey by Glassdoor revealed that 67% of job seekers consider diversity and inclusion an important factor when considering a job offer.
It is interesting to note that a report by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors. At the same time, a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 40% of employees who experienced harassment or discrimination at work left their job within two years.
These statistics show that creating a safe and inclusive workplace has tangible benefits for the success of an organization. Addressing microaggressions and fostering positive interactions among team members through executive coaching can be a valuable investment in the overall success of an organization.
What Are Microaggressions?
Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional, comments or actions that communicate a negative message to a person based on their race, gender, sexuality, generation, or other identities. Examples of microaggressions include comments such as “You’re so articulate for a black person” or “I don’t see colour, I treat everyone the same.”
These comments may seem harmless on the surface, but they can have a cumulative impact on the person they are directed towards. They can create a hostile work environment and lead to feelings of exclusion and marginalization.
Why Executive Coaching is Important
Corporate coaching can help organizations address microaggressions and foster positive interactions among team members. Coaching is a process in which an experienced coach works one-on-one with an executive or manager to help them develop their leadership skills and achieve their professional goals.
A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that employees who feel included at work are more than twice as likely to feel very loyal to their company. By working with an executive coach, managers and leaders can gain the skills they need to create a safe and inclusive workplace.
As established earlier, biases and microaggressions are often the product of unintentional issues and projections. The perpetrators are often not even aware that they are causing a sense of exclusion or insecurity in the workplace.
“The company I worked for had a very obvious North and South Indian divide. There were twelve North Indian employees and just three of us South Indians. We felt very excluded when our counterparts looked down upon us and spoke in “Hinglish” (a mix of Hindi and English) during meetings. We couldn’t understand what they were saying and often felt belittled,” said Janaki, a strategist from Chennai.
Cases like Janaki’s are often overlooked in corporate workplaces as they come from personal biases and are unintentional most often. It took a professional coach to indicate to Janaki that her South Indian colleagues used to speak in “Tanglish” (a mix of Tamil and English) quite often. While her North Indian colleagues excluded her, Janaki was also cutting off several of her colleagues with her biases! This knowledge helped all the parties involved to reconcile and form a culture of inclusion.
Executive coaching can help managers and leaders:
- Understand the Impact of Microaggressions
Many managers and leaders may not be aware of the impact of microaggressions on their team members. Corporate coaching can help them understand the impact of microaggressions and how they can create a hostile work environment. Coaches can work with managers and leaders to identify the microaggressions that may be present in their workplace and develop strategies to address them.
- Build Awareness and Empathy
Quality coaching can help managers and leaders build awareness and empathy for their team members. By understanding the experiences of their team members, managers and leaders can better support them and create a more inclusive workplace. Coaches can help managers and leaders develop their emotional intelligence and communication skills, which can help them build stronger relationships with their team members.
- Develop Strategies to Address Microaggressions
It can help managers and leaders develop strategies to address microaggressions when they occur. Coaches can work with managers and leaders to develop a plan for responding to microaggressions, including how to have difficult conversations with team members who have exhibited biased behavior.
Examples of Executive Coaching in Action
Here are a few examples of how coaching can be used to address microaggressions and foster positive interactions among team members:
- Developing an Inclusive Workplace Culture
A coach worked with a CEO who had recently taken over a company that had a history of workplace discrimination. The coach helped the CEO understand the impact of microaggressions and develop a plan to create a more inclusive workplace culture.
The CEO worked with the coach to develop a diversity and inclusion training program for all employees and implemented policies to address microaggressions when they occurred. As a result, the company saw a decrease in turnover and an increase in employee engagement.
- Addressing Biased Behavior
A coach worked with a manager who had exhibited biased behavior toward a team member. The coach helped the manager understand the impact of their behavior on the team member and develop a plan for addressing the behavior.
The manager worked ardently with the coach to develop strategies for building a stronger relationship with the team member and addressing any biases they may have had. As a result, the manager was able to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all team members.
- Creating a Safe Space for Discussions
A coach worked with a team leader who wanted to create a safe space for team members to discuss issues related to gender diversityand inclusion. The coach helped the team leader develop communication skills to facilitate difficult conversations, as well as strategies for creating a respectful and inclusive environment.
As a result, the team was able to have open and honest conversations about diversity and inclusion, which led to increased understanding and stronger relationships between team members.
Creating a safe workplace is critical for the success of any organization. Utilizing coaching can help managers and leaders develop the skills they need to address microaggressions and foster positive interactions among team members.
By taking conscious actions, executives can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all team members. In the end, this leads to higher levels of employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, as well as a stronger and more successful organization.
Talk to us on more information on Executive Coaching and its myriad benefits.