Together we stand. Respectfully.

How to create an environment where your team can grow stronger in times of political upheaval, social unrest, economic hardship and COVID-19

All employees play a role in creating a respectful culture where people can learn and grow together. An employee can demonstrate respect simply by listening and considering different ideas before landing on a solution. An employee who hears an unkind remark and speaks up, plays the role of mediator or files a report, stands up for respect. A manager or HR employee show respect through how quickly complaints are addressed and handled.

Here are some ways Spark is partnering with organizations to engage all employees with respect and diversity and inclusion, further embedding those values in the culture:

Cultivate a culture for all of your employees. Diversity and inclusion are essential. An organization's culture and values should reflect the interests and needs of every employee and the work being done every day. This creates ownership of these values by employees, leading them to invest in behaviors that support them. As culture is often described as "How we do things around here, respect should permeate every aspect of the "how." It's productive to share different opinions and ideas within a workplace culture where diversity and inclusion, respect, listening, empathy, trust and transparency are an everyday practice.

Describe respect in detail. Don't gloss over it or assume people fully grasp what it means in a changing world. People from time to time have different opinions, but how those thoughts should be expressed through language and action is timeless. Spark partners with organizations to train and engage employees about how to be respectful, listen with intention and be openminded. We also help employees connect how these qualities help them be more successful in their roles, develop stronger relationships and make a greater contribute to the organization's purpose. Spark has created employee in action stories for every client since our founding 11 years ago. Not only do these stories provide examples that other employees can use, it's also one way to give employees a voice about things that are important to them.

Communicate and enforce a zero-tolerance policy supporting diversity and inclusion. Hold people accountable. Off-color jokes about people's differences or stereotypical slurs have no place in the world. The Society of Human Resources Managers says "that employers should have effective anti-harassment policies that enable quick and thorough investigations of harassment complaints and hold perpetrators accountable." Ensure the grievance policies and procedures you have in place are communicated to everyone. Don't just send out a memo. Language, imagery and interactions all make a difference. Encourage employees to report complaints and ensure managers understand what is expected of them should an incident occur.

Don't try to ban a topic. It would be an impossible task to ban all political talk at work. The National Labor Board protects workers so they are able to discuss workplace conditions and unionization, topics which often involve a political aspect. Organizations don't want to run afoul os state and federal laws. Banning political conversations could also result in employees who already feeling marginalized feeling even more uncomfortable. Ensure employees understand the diversity and inclusion policies and procedures, social media guidelines and how to report an incident.

Ensure leaders embody the change they want to see. The importance of leadership commitment and the visibility of their commitment is cited time and time again for a good reason – it's essential. What a CEO says or doesn't say impacts how employees feel and act. An organization with united employees can be a powerful force for good in the world. Here is an excerpt of UPS CEO Carol Tome's statement issued after the riot at the Capital on June 6: "We are appalled by the lawlessness and violence that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol and strongly condemn the actions of those individuals who participated in the illegal activities that destroyed property and cost lives. We must peacefully and constructively find ways to advance the common good of our country within the bounds of our Constitutional framework and through the peaceful transition of power." Click here to the statement in its entirety.