How 6 Leaders Strive for Respect and Civility in the Workplace

It’s easy to say that all companies want to create a culture of respect and civility in the workplace. It’s a lot harder to implement it.
Built In Staff
May 10, 2021
Updated: May 12, 2021
Built In Staff
May 10, 2021
Updated: May 12, 2021

Respect in the workplace comes in many forms: recognition from leadership, working with fellow peers, engaging with company clients. Seventy-two percent of employees rated “showing respect of all employees” as very important, according to a recent survey by the Society of Human Resources Management. Respect was the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction, which led to greater engagement and commitment.

It’s clear how actions of mutual respect can help a workplace thrive. Yet a top challenge still remains – employees may not always recognize acts of disrespect to others or know how to navigate the situation when it occurs. When coworkers feel like they cannot fully trust the people around them or speak up to be heard, they are more likely to disengage from team culture or leave the company entirely.

That’s why organizations like the following tech companies establish a culture based on open communication, making sure all team members come to work with a complete understanding of what constitutes workplace respect. As a leader, that means being able to empathize with the experiences of both new hires and longtime employees alike.  

Built In caught up with six leaders to learn more about how they’re creating a workplace where everyone feels respected. 

Ways to Promote and Improve Civility in the Workplace

  • Practice constant communication
  • Seek continuous feedback from team members
  • Establish company values and make them foundational to your culture
  • Create internal groups for diversity and inclusion to foster open conversations

 

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Phenix Real Time Solutions

Jed Corenthal

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Jed Corenthal

Jed Corenthal is the CMO of Phenix, a platform for real-time video streaming solutions. When it comes to creating a respectful and civil workplace, Corenthal believes that constant communication, transparency and openness to all perspectives are critical factors in creating more civility at work.

 

What is the most important thing company leaders can do to promote and improve respect and civility in the workplace? 

Working in close quarters can be trying and stressful. The best way to ease tension and promote civility and respect is through constant communication. It is not only important for managers to communicate with those who work for them — to discuss the direction, strategy and goals for the company and their respective departures so everyone is on the same page working toward a common goal — it is just as important for employees to feel comfortable enough to walk into their manager’s office and discuss their own trials and tribulations.
 

The best way to ease tension and promote civility and respect is through constant communication.


How have you created a culture where everyone — regardless of their background — feels empowered to voice an opinion and feels confident that their opinions will be heard, valued and respected?

Phenix is still a small company with less than 40 employees, but it is important for each and everyone to feel as though they are contributing to the success of the company. We have biweekly “all-hands” company meetings to discuss key topics, issues and news so everyone is up to date. In addition, we have weekly one-on-one’s between managers, employees and peers so there is a constant flow of information. It is important to avoid surprises and meet any issues head-on.

 

How are you tracking, monitoring or measuring employee sentiment when it comes to things like feeling respected, empowered and valued? How are you using this data to inform future HR initiatives?

We have annual reviews where managers will sit with each employee separately and discuss the past year’s work, if they met their goals and objectives, what can be improved upon, and any concerns they may have. We will then discuss the upcoming year’s goals and objectives again, to avoid surprises and ensure that everyone feels respected and empowered.

More from Company CultureWhat Does Cultural Competency Look Like in the Workplace?

 

CarGurus

Alissa Stayn

VP OF HUMAN RESOURCES

Alissa Stayn

What is the most important thing company leaders can do to promote and improve respect and civility in the workplace?

Company leaders have an opportunity to learn, listen and engage with their employees as a starting point to promoting respect and civility in the workplace. While I’m fairly new to CarGurus, I can tell that there is a level of pride the company has in the actions that we have taken and continue to take to drive a culture of inclusion.

These include, but certainly are not limited to: building and sharing meaningful internal and external messaging promoting our diverse culture and our strong stance against racism, hate, and violence; sourcing underrepresented candidates for all of our open roles and requiring two or more underrepresented candidates at late-stage interviews for manager roles; striving to have diverse interview panels; donating to organizations that promote equality and respect for all; building a robust DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging) on-demand internal learning platform; and hosting a quarterly speaker series and regular anti-racism book club. Importantly, these are all part of our ongoing strategic initiatives for our organization as we underscore the importance of respect and civility across the company.
 

Company leaders have an opportunity to learn, listen and engage with their employees as a starting point to promoting respect and civility in the workplace.”


Civility in the workplace is as much about creating a space where everyone can speak their truth as it is about respecting and honoring those truths. How have you created a culture where everyone — regardless of their background — feels empowered to voice an opinion and confident that their opinions will be heard, valued and respected?

This is a critical imperative for us, and we recognize that this work takes time, continuous attention and a true systems change approach. While we have made significant progress, we also recognize that we have more that we can do. All of our employee resource groups are sponsored by a member of our executive team, creating engaging and meaningful conversations and actions to further drive a culture of openness, safety and inclusion.

Our employees are a vital part of our journey in this regard. To date, we have created space for conversations on hard topics and invited all Gurus in to learn, share brave space norms and encourage active participation. We also have hosted employee feedback and ideation sessions on both our corporate and DEIB strategy, focusing on creating and nurturing inclusive processes across our culture and business.

 

How are you tracking, monitoring or measuring employee sentiment when it comes to things like feeling respected, feeling empowered to speak up, and feeling like their opinions are valued? How are you using this data to inform future HR initiatives?

We gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback through anonymous employee surveys like our annual engagement survey, which includes multiple questions that focus on employee voice, belonging, respect and more. I’m proud to share that our scores in these spaces have been largely positive, indicating that our investment in cultivating a workplace where we can all thrive is working. In addition to surveys, live feedback sessions and spaces often provide an opportunity to collect qualitative feedback about our employees’ experiences.

As a data-driven company, collecting meaningful feedback and metrics is so important when it comes to understanding how we’re doing in this space and where we need to focus our efforts. This includes celebrating what we’re doing well, investing resources where we know we can improve, and encouraging employees to play an active role in shaping our programs, community and culture by sharing their feedback.

 

DailyPay, Inc.

Irene Hendricks

CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER

Irene Hendricks

What is the most important thing company leaders can do to promote and/or improve respect and civility in the workplace?

As leaders, we need to be alert to our behaviors of inclusion, communication and engagement with all colleagues. What we say, but more importantly what we do, is what will shape our culture. In an early-stage company like DailyPay, everything we do is foundational and creates the core of our generational culture.

I firmly believe that civility begins with our shared DailyPay values. These values collectively form our DailyPay Way – how we operate, engage with each other and show up to our customers. Our values are embedded in everything we do, from how we select talent, conduct onboarding to how we do our daily work. Our core focus on diversity, equity and inclusion tells us that respect is integral to every colleague, every day. It’s what helps us as an organization to Win With Diversity. Overall, these values are who we are.

 

How have you created a culture where everyone — regardless of their background — feels empowered to voice an opinion and confident that their opinions will be heard, valued and respected?

We embed our values throughout our ways of working. Colleagues provide each other with 360-degree feedback on not only WHAT they do, but HOW they show up in the workplace – a specific linkage to ensuring that our teamwork and culture is a big focus area for us.

Because we are a tight-knit organization that often works cross-functionally, behaviors such as treating each other with respect and dignity are essential to how we function.

We also strive to be a flat organization. We try to create ways that communication can happen throughout all levels of the organization, including “Ask the CEO” at our all-hands meetings, pulse surveying colleagues on diversity and inclusion, and formally engaging in culture surveys to ensure that everyone at DailyPay is having an outstanding experience with our culture.

 

What we say, but more importantly what we do, is what will shape our culture.”

 

How are you tracking, monitoring or measuring employee sentiment when it comes to things like feeling respected, feeling empowered to speak up, feeling like their opinions are valued, etc?  

We want to make sure these values are weaved through everything we do. Most recently, we created and rolled out a formal internal communication and social media policy to provide colleagues with guidance and examples on our expectations. This was supported by an all-hands training session with a Q&A to ensure that all colleagues had a chance to voice their questions and fully understand and appreciate not only the letter of this policy but also the spirit of it.

More from Company CultureUnlocking the Secret of a Multigenerational Workforce

 

Blue Nile

Jim Pennella

SR. DIRECTOR – INTERNATIONAL SUPPLY CHAIN

What is the most important thing company leaders can do to promote and/or improve respect and civility in the workplace?

I think the most important thing company leaders can do is create a culture and environment where all team members feel comfortable in expressing diverse opinions and that there is a feeling that it’s OK to disagree. Building this culture is much easier said than done. The leadership team needs to foster and build this culture through their actions and behavior. They need to create robust forums and mechanisms for employee communication — both from the top-down and the bottom-up. They need to value diverse approaches to business issues, and recognize and reward employees that demonstrate these behaviors. They should also seek guidance and feedback across the organization on how best to address the issues faced by the business.

 

Michelle Bland

GEMSTONE INSPECTOR

Michelle Bland

How are you tracking, monitoring or measuring employee sentiment when it comes to things like feeling respected, feeling empowered to speak up, feeling like their opinions are valued, etc.?

The best way we’ve done so is by creating the advisory council, which represents the suggestions and opinions of employees, and therefore allows us to monitor and measure employee sentiment. Also, written surveys have been a way to track and monitor employee sentiment.

 

Kevin Blum

DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES

Kevin Blum

How have you created a culture where everyone — regardless of their background — feels empowered to voice an opinion and are confident that their opinions will be heard, valued and respected?

That advisory council to the leadership team empowers our team members to voice their opinions. This council is composed of employees across the organization from all different backgrounds, positions and levels. The council’s main purpose is to provide feedback, propose ideas and make recommendations to our leadership team around diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Each member listens and brings opinions from their respective areas within the company, and in addition, we have town halls where everyone can voice their opinion.

 

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