We’ve seen several significant culture shifts this year which have brought increased awareness to the challenges and opportunities women face not only in the workplace, but in all aspects of life. At the same time, these shifts have some individuals wondering how to behave in this new environment. As a woman who advocates for the advancement of females, I felt it was time that I share my thoughts on this subject, particularly as it relates to behavior in our work environments.
First and foremost, what we can take away from these positive changes is that we have to be constantly and intentionally inclusive in our language and behavior. These are not just women’s issues or men’s issues. These are OUR issues. The shifts in our language, our actions and our approaches to situations must mirror our company’s values and culture. And, strong values as the foundation of a company’s culture are more important than ever.
Business leaders must be asking themselves, “What is our culture, and what are our values as a company?” “Do all of our associates’ behavior reflect these values?” These values cannot only be written on a piece of paper. Associates must live them, breathe them and believe them.
At CBIZ, we have five core values, but there are two in particular that I want to highlight in this post: “We do the right thing” and “Our people matter.” We don’t just see it posted on a wall. We live it and embrace it. From our CEO and President to each and every associate, there is a clear expectation that our behavior in the workplace reflects these values.
In this new environment, each one of us now has to assume a responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our associates and our colleagues. If we see something, we must say something. We have the obligation to have a conversation when something happens -- whether it is subtle bias or something more overt -- and sometimes it’s difficult. You may have to go through various channels, but it’s essential to take on a new sense of responsibility and accountability for ourselves and our colleagues in order to live by and strengthen our culture.
If we start to move in the direction of everyone having responsibility and accountability, then we can make the most of the positive culture shifts taking place in our world today. It is no longer men versus women or us versus them.
Senior leadership has both the power and obligation to make this happen. Living one’s values requires accountability. All associates are a reflection on your company, culture and values. Professional training and development should go beyond the technical aspects of the business and expanded to include leadership and culture.
Through the lens of “doing the right thing” and “people matter,” behavior becomes less about answering specific questions like, “Can I take her out to lunch?,” or “Can I give him a hug?” and grows into far deeper reflections of what does your culture and values dictate your behavior to be.
Manage and act through the lens of your company’s values. Then doing the right thing and making sure your people matter will allow you and your company to take the best from this cultural movement and embrace the opportunities!