The rise of immigration, interracial marriages, and self-fashioned identities has changed cultures in many areas around the world. People nowadays connect online and share their unique backgrounds, experiences and needs from the world, loudly & openly.
We all want to feel like we have a sense of control over who we are and who we want to be. For these identities to be real and valid, they ought to be accepted by our environment. Putting a constraint on one's ability to express their being as one genuinely wishes only creates mental health problems and conflicts that do not serve the organization any good.
However, the corporate space doesn't seem to catch up to speed with these changes and remains attached to longstanding cultural norms that convey our world as this traditional, binary place. This, in return, affects the mental health of thousands of employees whose identities do not conform to the "corporate norms" and affects the organization's performance.
McKinsey's 2019 analysis of thousands of large companies across the US & UK reaffirms that
Hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds isn't enough; it's the inclusion effort to create a positive workplace experience where they can thrive that makes a difference.
Take my example, I am a Muslim North African White Millennial Woman foreigner, and I started working corporate jobs at 20 years old. Throughout my journey in multinational firms, I had supervisors who respected my talent and supported my skills. In addition, they understood the value of different perspectives and provided growth opportunities for me. Today, they are my models of outstanding mentorship, which I have learned is a crucial component of success in the workplace. But on the other side of the coin, I had moments where I was bullied and marginalized for being too different or sexually harassed by my male coworkers. In those instances, I felt isolated and unsafe at work, and I wish I had someone to talk to so I wouldn't have to be so much into my head but more focused on the tasks ahead of me. Instead, my follow up action was to quit and look for a better environment.
I understand it's a challenge for companies as well. Even relatively diverse companies find it hard to create work environments with inclusive leadership, accountability among supervisors, fairness of opportunity, and openness and freedom from bias and discrimination. However, businesses should recognize the challenge and implement measures that support their employees' well being and the organization's as a whole.
Especially in 2021, with this constant barrage of events this world faces, our employers and we need to make sure we work in environments where everyone feels safe. At MYNDUP, we have made it our mission to ensure that mental health is accessible in the workplace and for everyone who needs it at any time. So that others don't go through moments like the ones I have been through alone.
MYNDUP Life & Executive Coach - Sharon gave us the best advice on how to deal with unwelcome harassment. Whether it's based on Race, Gender, Age, Disability, or Sexual Orientation, it's inappropriate and offensive but also an unlawful form of discrimination. It can undermine your confidence, affect your mental health and wellbeing and make you lose motivation.
So here is what you can do.
- Admit it exists – Rather than ignoring the situation or playing it down.
- Research – Find out about your company policy and gather information.
- Discuss your concerns with the individual – If you can, arrange to speak with them privately and calmly describe what has been happening and how it has affected you.
- Keep a diary – Document each incident.
- Speak to someone in the company – A colleague, manager, or HR department.
- Seek external support – From family, friends, or a specialist advisor, therapist, or coach.