A diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace requires all members of your workforce — from interns to C-Suite executives — to be invested in change. While it’s a collective effort, talent professionals and leaders must take charge in fostering education and leading the change within their own organizations.  

Built In sat down with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experts to learn more about what companies should be learning, discussing and doing to remove racism and oppression from the workplace. 

Michelle Y. Bess, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Sprout Social, shared how organizations can build a support system for employees to navigate these much needed changes. Her insights and advice will help your organization do the necessary work to be a more radically inclusive workplace. Read on to discover five takeaways we learned from the discussion, and download the complete guide to hear about all the things you should be doing as an organization. 

Building a radically inclusive workplace

  • Radically inclusivity requires out-of-the-box thinking
  • Intentional outreach makes all the difference
  • Open-ended questions are more inclusive
  • Inclusion surveys have the answers
  • Accountability is key


#1: Radical Inclusivity Requires Out-of-the-Box Thinking. 

Creating a radically inclusive work environment goes beyond the basics of inclusion; it requires big and bold ideas. Companies must find new ways to build systems that support Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), women and all underrepresented groups; something many companies are lacking today. Think like a product team and discover big ideas your company can implement to make radical changes to your business.


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#2: Intentional Outreach Makes All the Difference.

An extra push is sometimes needed to make radical inclusion a success. Studies show that women do not approach opportunities in the same way that men do. The same goes for People of Color. 

To make sure developmental and leadership programs succeed in helping employees from underrepresented groups, you must do intentional outreach. Take the extra step to invite these individual employees to join in on the opportunity. This simple act can make all the difference in who participates in your programs. 


#3: Open-Ended Questions Are More Inclusive.

How you ask questions, specifically with fellow employees, can either help or hurt inclusivity within the workplace. Asking a question that only allows for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer deters inclusivity. This type of question offers only two options, connection or disconnection. 

Instead, try asking an open-ended question. This allows conversation participants to keep chatting until a point of connection is found. It fosters a better sense of belonging in your workplace and allows you to learn more about your colleagues. 


“There is no better time to start talking about race than right now. Almost everyone is paying attention to these conversations and wants to learn.”

-Michelle Y. Bess, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director at Sprout Social 


#4: Inclusion Surveys Have the Answers.

Without understanding how each employee experiences your culture, you’ll never be able to truly build a radically inclusive work environment. Conducting an inclusion survey can help you pinpoint specifically how employees of underrepresented groups experience your culture. 

If you find they are experiencing your culture differently than other employees, you must discover why and create a plan of action to mitigate it. Be sure to focus on the layers of intersectionality to truly get a sense of how each employee experiences your work culture. 


#5: Accountability is Key.

Inclusion doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just make one change and expect everything to be solved. You must make an investment in long-term change. To do this well, companies must find ways to hold themselves accountable for the work that needs to be done. 

One way to do this is by publishing your company’s diversity metrics for the world to see. Sharing the number of underrepresented employees in your organization and the mobility and attrition of these employees is a great start. You should then track and share how these metrics change over time so people can see how you’re progressing and you can keep yourself accountable for making real, long-term change. 


These five things are just a sample of what we learned from speaking with Bess about radical inclusivity in the workplace. To start making change, companies must invest in learning about the history of racism and oppression and how their own organizations are affected by it. Download the guide to discover other ways organizations can foster a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.



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