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Creating Inclusive Workplaces: Insights from Our Panel Discussion with SoundCloud

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Together with SoundCloud, we had an insightful panel discussion focusing on the imperative topic of creating inclusive workplaces. The event brought together Isha Smith (Global VP of Total Rewards of SoundCloud), Dimitri Bilyrchyk (Co-Founder of Every Health) and Micheal Becher (CPO of Avi Medical) who shared their experiences and expertise on fostering inclusivity at workplace for the LGBTQ+ community.

Starting the conversation about LGBTQ+ community

One of the highlights of the discussion was hearing panelists sharing a defining moment in their career journey where they experienced the impact of an inclusive workplace on the LGBTQ+ community and how they found their mission to contribute to the topic.

Dima shared his coming out story and emphasised the importance of being open and vocal about being part of the queer community and normalising the conversation about it because he knows that it is not easy. What motivates Micheal to get involved in these initiatives to support the community is the idea of not wanting to go back to a place where he can’t be his authentic self. As an ally, Isha also shared the story when she heared experiences and challenges of a lesbian family who dont want to tell employer of their pregnancy due to potential stigma. This fact really stucked in her head and motivated her to really understand the community and the different layers of mental burden people are struggeling with and drive inclusive workplace forward. All of them feel empathy for people who are still struggling with coming out, as it is still a huge challenge for many and both personal stories also show how important an inclusive workplace can be for people in the community.

The role of allies in companies

The discussion was further dedicated to exploring the role of allies, both as individuals and the company as a whole. Micheal and Dima agreed on the fact that one special moment for many queer employees is finding the first queer co-worker to bond with. This underscores why visible allies are crucial in the workplace and should be incentivized.

General interest and more questions from management level will naturally arise from frequent and open conversations within the workforce. Therefore, Micheal encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to communicate their needs and challenges from the very beginning, starting with the onboarding process in the company. He shared how he initiated an education session at Avi Medical to introduce diverse toilets in their new office and helped set the tone for inclusivity and openness in the workplace and created a strong ally culture. This also shows, that initiatives that also include employees outside the immediate community that can become allys are crucial and can significantly enhance the overall corporate culture.

Defining employer responsibilities

A significant portion of the discussion was about what employers can exactly do to create more inclusive environments.

With her experience in leading a diversity resource group at SoundCloud, Isha says: “Inclusion can look different, it needs to feel the same.“

For a company, building a business case is the beginning, but authenticity throughout every action is very important. Only if initiatives come from an intrinsic motivation of the employer and feel authentic, diversity can be leveraged as beneficial employer branding within the workforce and as well in recruiting. In fact, only pink washing PR campaigns will ultimately not diffuse into the workplace culture.

That’s why taking a holistic view for values, existing policies and the people while setting up a strategy is crucial. Isha elaborated that at SoundCloud, for example, the CEO, Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief People Officer regularly come together to discuss LGBTQ+ issues and align on their willingness to invest in inclusivity. This kind of top-level engagement sets a powerful example and fosters a culture of inclusivity throughout the organisation.

While it is beneficial for initiatives to be employee-driven and bottom-up, management must provide the necessary resources, both monetary and in terms of support and appreciation as well as create a safe space for these initiatives. Practical steps such as offering benefits that cater to the needs of LGBTQ+ employees, setting up employee resource groups, and ensuring representation at all levels of the organisation were highlighted as best practices.

Key takeaways on how to create inclusive workplaces

Our panel discussion with SoundCloud and our three amazing panelists was a powerful reminder of the collective effort required to build truly inclusive workplaces. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Listen and learn: Understanding the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals is crucial. Create platforms where it is safe to be loud and their voices can be heard. Quoting Isha: “Every good story starts with understanding the community and how they feel”
  • Active allyship: Allies play a vital role in supporting inclusivity, since small actions of support can lead to significant changes and create a environment where employees can open up and feel understood.
  • Employer action: Employers must take a holistic view to create DEI strategies. The initiatices can only be diffused into the culture of the workforce when they are driven by authenticy and intrinsic motivation.

A big thank you for the panelist for their insightful insights! Let’s create workplaces where everyone feels included, respected, and valued in their workplace!

At Apryl, we offer fertility benefits ranging from initial consultations and diagnostic testing to treatments such as IUI, IVF and egg and sperm freezing, ensuring that all employees receive the support they need, regardless of their circumstances. Book a demo to find more about our service.

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