Leveling the Playing Field at Work
Throughout my life, I’ve had a passion for creating and working in equity- and equality-driven environments.
True equality in the workplace is defined not just by representation, but also by valuing people and perspectives from diverse physical and intellectual backgrounds. This mindset is required to create an optimal work environment that empowers and rewards each employee, as well as to optimize work itself, as it enables you to get the best out of every team member.
A large part of “leveling the playing field” is simply inviting and encouraging individuals to be their authentic selves. People have different needs, including in their capacity as employees. Therefore, equity requires a commitment to adaptability, knowing there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to supporting diverse members of a team.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has further set us back from a gender and ethnicity equity perspective; its challenges manifested in ways that were disproportionately borne by women and minority groups. This has highlighted the systematic inequalities common to established work environments and workplace dynamics.
As a German in the United States, I’ve had significant exposure to a wide breadth of approaches to organizational hierarchies. This has given me unique insight on how different tools, infrastructures, philosophies, and cultures can be leveraged to increase equity within organizations. I have identified a number of ways organizations can drive equity and equality in the workplace:
- Focus on changing the system and culture, rather than siloing DE&I responsibilities into narrowly defined roles or positions.
- Make DE&I part of everyone’s job and integrate that into your KPI or OKR structures, quarterly and annual reviews and general agenda setting.
- Normalize talking about equality and equity in the workplace. Finding a shared language that invites individual and collective reflection on a neutral level is valuable; we are currently using the Value Match Methodology.
- New technologies can be leveraged to help drive more equity. For example, the “Play to Earn” approach that emerged in the Philippines during the pandemic, which allowed day-to-day service workers to deviate to a new NFT and crypto currency-based work solution, is fascinating. Novel approaches can help democratize “knowledge” work moving forward.