Starting a new position at a new company brings many exciting opportunities and challenges, including finding how your interests and identity align with the workplace culture. Employers may frequently espouse key terms like “diversity and inclusion” or “company culture” at interviews and on their website in an effort to better inform future employees about their commitment to creating a desirable work environment. As a prospective employee who values diversity and inclusion, hearing such key terms may feel welcoming.
But how does one know what action the company is taking on these values? One can try to gauge the environment through research and questioning, but it is hard to truly know an employer’s culture until you actually begin working there. It’s only once you’re settled into your new role can you start to look at how you will actually fit into the company culture and identify ways you may enhance your new work home.
A simple, yet insightful first step is to observe your surroundings. Notice who and how (and perhaps even why) your colleagues do the work they do. Get to know personality similarities and differences. Ask yourself a few questions: Does the company both hire and retain diverse individuals? Are employees of diverse interests and identities working together? Are they well-supported in such efforts?
Next, take a closer look at company policies and procedures. For example, does the company recognize holidays you celebrate? If not, is there a floating holiday in place so you can celebrate holidays that are important to you? What about policies that support working parents? Or what are the procedures around reporting misconduct or harassment? It’s important to note how the company handles situations that may affect you or one of your coworkers. A positive company culture does not exist if employees are not heard and supported.
After looking at the company’s policies and procedures, research if there are any programs or initiatives pertaining to special interests or even identity. A great way for a company to show they value inclusion is by hosting special events and trainings, contributing to charities via volunteerism or donation, and/or creating affinity groups that align with employee values and interests.
Finally, after much observation and research, it is time for you to lean in! If you found that your new employer’s culture matches your interests and identity, it will likely be easy for you to immerse yourself in the culture. However, if there are areas where you feel you or others are not adequately represented or supported, you may begin to shape the culture you want to be a part of. Large companies may have diversity and inclusion directors or officers with whom you can reach out to with your thoughts. Smaller companies may not have people in that position, so you may have to lead initiatives or policy changes more directly in order to enhance the company culture.
While the quest to find a company culture that’s best for you is not a one-size-fits-all solution, with adequate research and a bit of perseverance and initiative, you can find your culture niche.
If you are interested in having an opportunity to discuss the ways in which a company culture audit could help your business, please contact one of our Chicago business lawyers today at 312.212.4450 to schedule a free consultation.