Employers are trying to understand, recruit, develop and retain Gen Z talent, a demographic with decidedly different perspectives on work and life, by balancing remote and on-site work. Gen Z wants a workplace culture built on mental health and well-being, purpose, and strong social values, according to a recent U.K. study.
Many Gen Z grew up in a world where diversity, equity, and inclusion are important. As brands attempt to attract and retain Gen Z talent, it’s important to keep in mind that one in five Gen Z adults identifies as LGBTQ.
DEI work is intended to create change for a diverse workforce. Changing workplace conditions are what successful companies anticipate and respond to by refining their DEI approaches. Meeting Gen Z’s expectations is important because they will make up one-third of the workforce by 2030.
Changing workplace shapes a generation.
Many Gen Z entered the workforce for the first time during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This experience has helped to shape what is important to them, with top priorities including DEI and environmental, social, governance.
Gen Z views leadership differently and wants to see what matters to them demonstrated in the ethos and actions of the companies they work for. As a result, leaders should be prepared to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk of showing how they are bridging the gap between business and society—namely, through their DEI work.
See also: 5 ways to create a safe workplace culture for LGBTQ employees
Policies, procedures and practices related to where employees can do their jobs are important. More equitable experiences were reported by many knowledge workers during the remote-first work posture of the pandemic. Managers must be aware of the limitations of managing remotely and the challenges of building networks and experience.
In hybrid work and beyond, employers must work with their employees to strike the correct balance with remote work to maintain a sense of equity while moving forward
Pay attention, and beIntentional.
This often starts with change. When it comes to that change, organizations need to be more intentional in their choices. Evaluating policy, procedures and systems for barriers to equity, fairness and accessibility is what it’s about. How can you make an impact? How can you make lasting change?
Employee experiences can be used to guide the initiatives. There are gaps between what is intended and what is actually happening. Job descriptions can be used, for instance. Is there more inclusive language you can include? How can you do that consistently? Consider the signals that are being sent to prospective and current employees.
It is necessary to create a culture of psychological safety, inclusion and belonging.
It’s important for employees to have tools to establish better equity, but it’s also important for them to be comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. In order to create an overall culture of psychological safety, inclusion and belonging, leaders need to reinforce the changes they make with initiatives.
Establishing processes and protocols that prioritize psychological safety and inclusion in areas such as non-discrimination, non-retaliation, insurance benefits, healthcare, and name and pronoun guidelines can be done. The framework for supporting the vast range of needs and identities in an office setting is created by the rules and guidelines. Resource groups can help create better access to resources for a wide range of diverse individuals.
Larger hiring initiatives can also help consciously welcome employee perspectives into the workplace in a holistic way. Special events, conferences and employee referral programs open the door for diverse candidates, who in turn bring a more diverse set of histories and experiences to the table.
One way to truly be inclusive is to celebrate tribute month events that recognize the resilience and contributions of employee communities year-round. Companies can make inclusion a priority, but those that really stand out are those that celebrate their workforce identities. At work, employees should feel proud of who they are.
Make sure your commitment is visible.
Visibility and representation are important during any cultural shift. Unless there is a proactive effort to demonstrate inclusion, prospective employees have no way of knowing that they will be welcomed, that their uniqueness will be celebrated and their contributions will be valued in the organization
You increase the chances for your employees to experience psychological safety, share their unique perspectives and fully embrace the contribution that they are bringing to your organization when diversity is visible.
People want to know when they join a company where they can be their full selves and advance. When Gen Z is applying for jobs and they see people in leadership positions at all intersections of identities, including people like themselves, they know they will be welcome, seen and taken care of.
DEI is more than my career because it has been a life long experience. I live an intersectional life because I am a gay and Hispanic man. I want to be an advocate for others because of my experiences. A place for all people to thrive as their authentic selves is what the corporate environment needs to be for Gen Z and for everyone.