There’s a hole in your company, and diversity can solve it. It’s no secret that we’re all different from one another—nothing could be more obvious—and it’s long past the time to welcome a more diverse working world.
Today, we hear from Shauna Cour, Vice President of Employer Sales at Ovia Health, and Jerice O’Malley, Head of Business Development and Sales at Amplify Consulting Partners Inc., about what it means to create a space for difficult conversations, build up psychological safety, and eliminate silence culture.
Join us as we delve into the long-term impact of facilitating psychological safety, how empathy is powerful in the workplace, why setting boundaries and expectations is crucial, and the danger of silence culture.
The long-term impact of facilitating psychological safety
Creating an inclusive environment means not only making room for everyone at the table but ensuring they feel safe and can contribute freely.
“You’re excited, collaborating, emotionally plugged in,” said Shauna, around the hopeful outcome of creating that space.
A sense of belonging isn’t only a key to the room, it’s a voice at the table—we’ve all been in a where we didn’t feel able to speak up, or if we did, were unsure if what we said had any impact. It’s an isolating sensation that we’re working to decrease.
Focusing on psychological safety boosts morale
Saying that you’re prioritizing DEI is one thing; taking actionable steps is another.
“If nothing is changing and it’s all just speak, these days most people are going to hang on for six months, maybe a year, and the people that stay on for more than a year who care about diversity, those people aren’t actually happy,” said Jerice, reflecting on the changing times in the workforce.
People are hungry for improvement. Advocacy is top of the list for waves of people starting their careers, switching industries, and educating themselves on equality.
It starts in leadership
“Creating that safe environment is also supporting the folks on the team with their career trajectory,” said Jerice, on what leaders can do to support diversity.
It’s about recognizing everyone on your team as valuable professionals with goals, thoughts, and ideas; and then listening to them.
Empathy is powerful in the workplace
Not everyone is comfortable embracing emotions and having tough conversations. What’s natural for some is not natural for others—that’s okay.
“I realized they were operating from fear because they were afraid of what I can do,” said Shauna on discovering her abilities in using empathy. “Realizing that it was a weakness on their part and a strength on mine, to be able to do that, was huge for me.” She continued.
It’s not about being better or stronger. Empathy is about recognizing strengths and weaknesses—meeting people where they’re at with understanding.
“We’re all just people here,” said Jerice, stressing the importance of inclusivity when interacting with candidates and team members alike.
- Seek to understand.
- Acknowledge differences without being polarizing.
- Bank into empathy through the connections you form.
Why setting boundaries and expectations is crucial
Gone are the days of pretending you don’t have a life outside of work. No more sneaking away to see your loved ones or feeling guilty for clocking out on time when you’ve done a good day’s work.
The call for flexibility is loud and strong. People are no longer settling for jobs that draw them consistently away from their priorities.
“In every interview I had with every company this year, I was open in our first conversation to say, “Listen, I need psychological safety, I need leaders that lead with empathy first,” said Shauna on how she approaches career opportunities.
This is the future
We’re going forward, and this applies to all aspects of business, including all types of diversity—from gender to race to ethnicity—we’re paving a way to better balance.
The danger of silence culture
We’ve touched on the importance of psychological safety. The antithesis to that is silence culture.
“Part of silence culture is on the individual contributor level. They need to feel like they can speak to their boss and manager in a free motion,” said Jerice.
Silence culture thrives on fear. It boards up windows, bolts doors, and seals lips. That may make it easier on some levels, but the long-term ramifications of not addressing issues far outweigh any momentary benefits.
“It’s really about people getting comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.” Added Shauna.
The remedy for silence culture is what you would expect: conversations.
Hard ones, long ones, important ones. Always with an ear for listening to understand, not only to respond. This is how you assure everyone is aiming in the same direction with the same intent for company goals. And, it’s how you make room for other people—along with their opinions, ideas, and thoughts—at the table.
Get in touch with Shauna and Jerice on their LinkedIns.
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