The chair of the LGBT Network at my work ran a seminar a couple of weeks ago entitled ‘Active Signalling for Managers’. This gave attendees an opportunity to discuss and workshop ideas into how they can make an extremely positive contribution to promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace through the implementation of very simple measures.

Although the seminar focussed on signalling for the LGBT community, essentially these measures can apply to all protected characteristics (age, gender, race, disability etc.)

Being a gay guy myself, I was able to provide insight into what a positive difference active signalling makes in the workplace for my own feelings of inclusion, having felt excluded from society in various ways when I was growing up.

During the seminar, I became aware of the pangs of anxiety that I experience every time I meet a new team when I am assessing the risk of when/how to come out, which can be quite energy-sapping. After all, without active signalling how do I know that you are not homophobic? But I find that if I am made aware of a strong ethic of diversity and inclusion in the organisation on first contact then it really is very reassuring and instantly inclusive.

So what kind of things can managers do?

At the highest level senior managers can embed diversity and inclusion in a strand of the organisations’ strategy and make sure there is routine reporting (i.e. quarterly) on how it is being delivered.

At a team or wider organisational level:

  • From early moments of contact with the organisation people can be made aware of the diversity and inclusion ethic. For example, interview candidates could be asked a diversity-related question, or it is mentioned in the introduction to the organisation by the interview panel, who themselves are not just one demographic;

  • A diversity pledge could be printed out and framed in the reception or entrance to the organisation;

  • On joining the organisation, the diversity and inclusion strand of the strategy can be summarised as part of an induction pack, which also provides the contact details of support networks for different protected characteristics, should the new staff member identify with those and want to join;

  • Managers can commit to including a discussion/workshop on diversity and inclusion as part of the agenda for a team-building day.

On an individual level:

  • Managers can encourage a diversity and inclusion objective in each of their team members’ annual development appraisals;

  • Individuals can attend training in how to challenge inappropriate behaviour safely and confidently in the workplace;

  • In our organisation, people wear rainbow lanyards to show their allegiance to diversity;

  • You can put something in your signature block showing your support to a policy of diversity and inclusion.

This is just a selection of ideas that we discussed in the seminar.

A key part of my job is engaging with partners from around the world and I have made a personal commitment to wearing a rainbow pin badge, which stands out in particular on the collar of a suit. This to me is a key signifier of the organisation’s identity of diversity, on a global level, and I am proud that this is something that is supported in my organisation in a way that I haven’t felt in other work environments.

This kind of creative brainstorming to develop somebody’s management skills is the kind of thing that would take place in Executive Coaching and can prove incredibly beneficial in improving team cohesion, happiness at work and a consequential improved productivity.

The seminar ended with one of the facilitator’s favourite quotes by Martin Luther King:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

If you’re a manager and feel you could benefit from Executive Coaching, then please get in contact for more information.

Take care!


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