3 Behaviors to Avoid in an Inclusive Workplace
While attending a Women in Remodeling forum, Operations Manager Wendy Ballou was challenged to think more broadly about how women and other “outsiders” in the residential construction industry can have a greater impact, especially in response to a constricted labor market. Wendy has a unique perspective on how views have changed and where the industry is headed given her 25+ years in remodeling.
One of Wendy’s takeaways from Pro New England’s women’s forum was the importance of seeing a teammate as a whole, and not as a peg fitting into a preconceived peg board, especially in this traditionally male-dominated industry. All too often, a woman’s knowledge and expertise are dismissed, or she is seen as only suitable for traditional women’s roles.
Wendy shares, “Earlier on in my career, I felt this bias, but I’m encouraged to see views changing. I recently attended a Youth Remodeling Career Day and was inspired to see so many young women entering the field. We need to continue to have these inclusive conversations to make sure their experience is a positive one.”
Attendees at the forum acknowledged that narrow-minded views aren’t limited to women’s roles. It’s unfortunately more widespread, impacting men with different ethnic backgrounds, political views, or religious traditions. Some problematic behaviors to avoid are:
- Making assumptions – If introduced to a man and a woman from the same company, and one is the designer and one is the project manager, don’t assume who is who.
- Condoning conversations that aren’t appropriate for all audiences – When a discussion stops because a coworker enters the room, it’s alienating to the one left out.
- Making light of ethnic differences – When we practice our very limited foreign language knowledge in what we feel is a light or joking manner to our coworkers, like saying “buenos noches amigo”, that can make others feel belittled or disrespected.
Thankfully, Wendy hasn’t seen these behaviors in the JM workplace, but it definitely should be discussed to recognize that this happens, and to ensure inclusivity is always emphasized.
We need to look outside of what has always been considered to be the norm. We need to be welcoming and encouraging, validating that all opinions, viewpoints, and contributions are as valued as our own.