Advice on how to rewrite the rules of the workplace to create more inclusive and diverse cultures from top female leaders inside The Girls’ Lounge at 4A’s. 

Rewriting The Rules At Work To Create More Inclusive Cultures

At The Female Quotient, we say diversity is an action, and inclusivity is cultural.  Diversity is only part of the equation. To achieve true workplace equality, you need an inclusion infusion. We gathered advice on how to rewrite the rules of the workplace to create more inclusive cultures from top female leaders inside The Girls’ Lounge at 4A’s. 

Replace maternity leave with mandatory parental leave. While companies with elective paternity leave may be considered progressive, hiring bias from managers may cause many bosses to take a pause before hiring a woman of child-bearing age as he may be thinking of how he can’t replace her should she go on maternity leave. The solution? According to Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient, the key to eliminating this challenge is for companies to offer mandatory parental leave for both sexes to help level the playing field. “If you have mandatory parental leave, regardless of whether you’re a mother or a father, have your own child or adopt a child, both partners taking that time off helps bias disappear.”

Create opportunities that allow workers to know each other. Empathy comes from understanding someone—what drives them and how they work. By carving out time and opportunities to truly get to know and understand the people you’re working alongside, you’ll help create a more inclusive environment where everyone feels like they belong. As Tina Daniels, Director, Agency Business Development, Omnicom, Google, notes, “At the end of the day, people want to be understood and loved—or maybe in the workplace, understood and respected. I think that it is hard to do that if you don’t really know the people that you’re working with.”

Consider performance, not time logged at work. Oftentimes employees are judged by the time they spend at their desk more than the actual contributions they’re making to the company. This can create a bias for workers who may have more responsibilities at home requiring them to log less time at the office, whether it’s a working parent who has to leave at a certain time very day to pick up kids from daycare or an employee caring for an aging parent. Recalibrate to focus on the results employees deliver, not the hours they clock. “When we talk about our rock stars, men or women, I don’t think about when they’re there [at the office] or not there, because it’s all about the contribution,” says Carmina Drummond, Chief Culture Officer, The Martin Agency.

Seek out diversity of mindset. Diversity isn’t just about gender or race, it’s also about diversity of background and mindset. Be intentional about bringing diversity into meetings and work opportunities. If we want diversity, we should all be bringing people to work who are not like us. “When you get diversity of thought, you get diversity of action,” explains Jennifer Terry, Assistant Vice President – Global Talent Attraction, AT&T.

Widen your talent pool. People tend to hire people who look and act like themselves because that is what feels comfortable, but it’s not the best for business.  Instead, focus on diverse hires that don’t merely mirror the makeup of your existing team. “If I don’t start [with the hiring process], I’m never going to really change that dynamic,“ says Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO, 4A’s.

Listen to everyone’s voices. For women, interruptions in the workplace sadly aren’t uncommon. Create an environment where people have permission to point out this bad behavior and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make their voice heard. “Inclusivity is about people feeling safe, people feeling like they can be their whole selves at work, so they can talk and say what they need to say, and people are going to say ‘that’s stupid’ or ‘I don’t look at it that way,” says Val DiFebo, CEO, Deutsch NY.

Here are more ideas for rewriting the rules of work:

8 Ways To create a Culture Of Care Where All Workers Feel Like They Belong

Want To Be Happier At Work? The Secret Lies In the Power of Connections

Lead With Impact: How To Speak Up And Be Heard