How to Foster an Inclusive Culture in Your Organization – and Why We Do It
TXI’s commitment to DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) is a core business strategy that drives our operations and decisions at every level. It’s also something that makes us better at the work we do for clients and a better place to work.
So why isn’t every company putting DEIB at the core of their operations? Because it’s hard and requires dedicated, intentional, ongoing commitment.
In this blog post, we highlight some of what that commitment looks like as it relates to building an inclusive culture. Read on to get a sense of how we’re engaging with this work and how it’s changing our company.
Moving beyond transparency to fostering curiosity
We’ve always been a transparent organization. Every month, we publish our financials for the entire company. We’ve held regular AMAs with leaders and encouraged one-on-ones between executives and employees throughout the organization.
As we’ve pushed ourselves to become more inclusive, we’ve moved beyond transparency to curiosity. For the last two years, for example, we’ve asked everyone in the company to complete a culture survey.
This year, we’re pushing our curiosity even further: we’ve reserved an entire day to discuss the results as a company and identify next steps to address issues and opportunity areas.
This kind of proactive curiosity is crucial for any company interested in fostering an inclusive culture: we don’t wait for a problem to erupt to think about change. We regularly ask our people what's working and what's not so that we can identify areas of improvement.
It’s easy in any organization to assume that if nobody complained, everybody was happy. But in reality, that’s rarely the case. By being curious about our culture and by committing to challenging ourselves and each other to be better, we find out how people actually feel, and, crucially, we give ourselves the opportunity to improve so that people stay.
Engaging in active listening
We’ve written in the past about how active listening drives our product innovation work. It’s also an essential tool in fostering an inclusive culture.
For example, we’ve structured our full-day, company-wide culture survey analysis day as a round-robin event to ensure we hear everyone’s perspective, not just the perspectives of leaders or people who are most comfortable speaking up in group settings.
The goal is not to have an easy, cheerful conversation. There will likely be points of tension and disagreements. That’s okay. In fact, disagreement is healthy and normal and essential if we truly want to hear everyone’s voice and grow beyond how we do things today.
It’s important to note, too, what we’re not doing with the results of the survey: we’re not handing them off to company leaders to deal with on their own. For leaders, that can be hard: when you’re committed to your workplace culture and you hear feedback that something isn’t working, it’s natural to want to “fix” it.
But solutions that come from the top down and don’t involve the people affected are not, by definition, inclusive. By reviewing and discussing survey results as an organization, we aim to identify changes that will make our culture better and more inclusive.
Investing in the process and committing to ongoing change
I mentioned that we’re taking a full day away from client work. That’s part of our investment in fostering an inclusive workplace. We’ve also invested in technology (including Thought Exchange and Butter) to support active listening for our distributed workforce.
But these are just the beginning. The bigger commitment is to operate in a mode that values experimentation and enables us to rework our existing systems so they function better.
For example, last year’s survey revealed that many people weren’t happy with TXI’s organizational structure and career path support. So we identified a different way of doing things and spent much of the last year building, testing, and iterating on that structure.
These kinds of changes are never easy, but the work required involves actually making the changes, not convincing leadership that we need to try new things. That’s because we operate with the understanding that the company is not stagnant and that cultivating the place where we all want to work is an ongoing project that will never be finished.
Engagement can’t happen without inclusion
Employee engagement has been tied to productivity, happiness, and retention. But only about one in three workers in the US reports being engaged at work. That’s a huge problem for employers, but unless they start proactively asking employees how they’re experiencing their work life, engagement isn’t likely to improve.
In the short term, that proactive inquiry will mean taking resources away from what we traditionally think of as revenue-generating work. But in the long term, investing in the employee experience in meaningful, impactful ways will result in workplaces that are supportive and rewarding and welcoming of employees’ authentic selves. Employees will show up to work committed to the organization––because the organization is committed to them.
We are very much a work in progress. And we look forward to our ongoing journey toward greater inclusivity.
Published by Mark Rickmeier , Kara Carrell in Culture