Advocating For Underrepresented Team Members

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advocating for underrepresented team members

Advocating For Underrepresented Team Members

Advocating for underrepresented team members can take on various forms,  but it’s important to do to foster an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

One way to achieve this is by asking thought-provoking questions, creating a safe space for open dialogue, and actively listening to diverse perspectives. It’s worth noting that a recent survey revealed an overwhelming 75% of job seekers prefer companies and workplaces that prioritize diversity. This highlights the significance of cultivating a diverse workforce in order to attract and retain top talent.

If we truly aim to make a difference, advocating for underrepresented groups within our organization is an essential starting point.

1. Build Credibility

When it comes to fostering diverse workplaces, one crucial aspect we need to consider is how we can bolster someone’s credibility. Credibility plays a significant role in how others perceive us in the workplace – it’s about being seen as dependable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable.

Consider the following:

  • Shine A Light – Many of us can relate to the frustration of having our ideas stolen or overshadowed by someone else. It’s disheartening when our contributions go unnoticed or uncredited. To truly support and build the credibility of underrepresented groups in the workplace, it’s essential that we actively shine a light on their ideas and expertise. For instance, let’s say, Mandy, an underrepresented team member, has valuable experience working with the data team. Instead of allowing her expertise to go unnoticed, we can proactively highlight her skills in meetings by saying something like, “You should definitely speak to Mandy about this project. She brings extensive experience and knowledge from her work with the data team.” By doing so, we not only acknowledge Mandy’s contributions but also build up her credibility by showcasing her expertise to others.advocating for underrepresented team members
  • Pave The Way – Another effective approach to bolstering someone’s credibility is by creating opportunities for them to speak up and be heard. We can actively pave the way by giving them the floor to speak. For instance, let’s imagine Ben, an underrepresented team member, recently led a successful launch. To highlight his achievements and help build his credibility, we can specifically address him in a meeting by saying, “Hey Ben, congratulations on the successful launch! We would love to hear more about how you approached it. Could you share your insights and strategies with the team?” By doing this, we provide a platform for Ben to showcase his expertise, allowing him to speak up and share valuable knowledge that can benefit the entire team.

The key is to preface our questions and statements with why this person is credible. This is a great way to shine a light and give credit where it’s due.


2. Highlight The Work

Recognizing the contributions of underrepresented colleagues is a simple and impactful way to advocate for them and showcase their strengths. It’s something we can do at any time to create a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Consider the following:

  • Share Good News – When we come across a team member who is doing exceptional work, it’s important to let our senior managers know and share the good news. One effective way to do this is by forwarding relevant emails that highlight our colleagues’ achievements. For instance, if we receive positive client feedback about a team member’s performance, we can take a moment to forward that email to our senior managers, accompanied by a brief note expressing our appreciation for our colleague’s outstanding work. By doing so, we not only showcase our colleague’s accomplishments but also demonstrate our support and recognition of their contributions.
  • Be A CheerleaderBeing a cheerleader for our colleagues is a wonderful way to highlight good work and show our support. It’s all about celebrating peoples accomplishments and recognizing their efforts. When we notice a colleague who has gone above and beyond to complete a project, it’s important to share their success with the whole team. An easy and effective way to do this is by sending out an email congratulating them and acknowledging their fantastic performance. For instance, we can write something like, “Congratulations to Kevin for doing an exceptional job in getting these deliverables done on time! Your hard work and dedication are truly commendable.” By being a cheerleader for our colleagues, we not only boost their morale and confidence but also create a positive and uplifting team culture.

It’s important to remember that praising and recognizing others is one of the highest forms of appreciation we can give or receive. So let’s embrace the opportunity to celebrate our colleagues’ accomplishments and spread positivity throughout the team.


3. Speak Up

Advocating for our team members goes beyond recognizing their achievements. It also involves speaking up when we notice them being talked over or their ideas being dismissed. It’s important to be a proactive ally and ensure their voices are heard and valued.

Consider the following:

  • Call It Out – It’s important to be mindful that individuals with lower confidence in communication skills might have softer voices, making it easier for them to be talked over or interrupted. When we witness this happening, it’s crucial to call it out in a diplomatic and supportive manner. Advocating for our underrepresented team members means actively ensuring their voices are heard and respected. For instance, if we notice our colleague Jason being interrupted while sharing his thoughts, we can intervene by addressing the situation. We might say something like, “Hold on a moment, Jason. You were in the middle of sharing your thoughts, and I think it’s important that you have the opportunity to finish before we move on to the next point.” By doing this, we not only give Jason the chance to continue expressing his ideas but also bring awareness to the interruption and encourage others to be more mindful and respectful.

    advocating for underrepresented team members

  • Stop Interrupting – It’s important to recognize that the urge to interrupt others and be heard can be a common experience when we have exciting ideas to share. However, interrupting others can inadvertently shut them down and discourage them from sharing their own valuable thoughts and ideas.  We need to make a conscious effort not to interrupt others and instead create an environment where everyone’s contributions are respected. For example, we might say, “Alex, I understand you want to share your idea, but let’s allow Patrick to finish expressing his thoughts first.” By acknowledging both parties and stating it factually, we reinforce the importance of active listening and considerate communication interrupted. 

Speaking up is crucial when it comes to advocating for our underrepresented team members. It’s an active and powerful way to support their voices and ensure their needs and perspectives are heard and valued.

Advocating for underrepresented team members is not limited to a select few—it is something that anyone and everyone can contribute to. When we actively support and uplift our underrepresented colleagues, it creates a ripple effect of goodwill and positive impact throughout the workplace.


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