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DEI Leader Checklist: How to Promote Psychological Safety at Work

TL;DR To foster a positive work environment, DEI leaders must prioritize psychological safety, enabling team members to share ideas and take risks without fear. This checklist outlines essential strategies, from transparent communication to supporting mental health, to help leaders build high-performing, inclusive teams.

Team Disclo
June 28, 2024

Creating a workplace where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, taking risks, and being themselves is crucial for fostering a positive work environment. Experts like Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School have extensively researched this concept of psychological safety. In this article, we’ll explore how DEI, HR, and ERG leaders can promote psychological safety and build high-performing teams.


Understanding Psychological Safety


What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety refers to a team’s belief that they won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. It’s the foundation for effective teamwork and a crucial element of a healthy workplace culture.


The Importance of Psychological Safety

Research from Harvard Business Review and Project Aristotle by Google highlights that psychological safety is critical to high-performing teams. When employees feel safe taking interpersonal risks, they are more likely to contribute to problem-solving and innovation, leading to better team performance and employee engagement.


DEI Leader Checklist: How to Promote Psychological Safety at Work


In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving workplace, fostering an environment of psychological safety is essential for both employee well-being and organizational success. This section provides a comprehensive checklist designed to guide leaders and organizations in creating a culture where every team member feels safe, valued, and heard. From transparent communication to regular reviews and adjustments, each step is crafted to enhance trust, openness, and inclusivity across all levels of the company.


1. Transparent Communication


What to Do:

  • Ensure leaders communicate openly and honestly about company decisions, changes, and plans.
  • Encourage leaders to not only share outcomes but also explain the decision-making processes. This helps employees understand the rationale behind decisions and feel more connected to the organization's goals.
  • Use multiple channels (e.g., emails, meetings, intranet) to disseminate information.


2. Consistency and Reliability


What to Do:

  • Follow through on promises and maintain consistent actions and policies.
  • Be predictable in your responses and behavior to build trust.
  • Implement a system where feedback on changes is regularly solicited and publicly addressed. This reinforces the commitment to consistency and transparency.


3. Encouraging Open Dialogue


What to Do:

  • Conduct regular one-on-one and team check-ins to discuss concerns and ideas.
  • Create forums for open discussion without fear of negative consequences.
  • Schedule regular "no agenda" meetings where employees can discuss anything that's on their mind with their leaders. This can provide a more relaxed environment that encourages open communication.


4. Feedback Mechanisms


What to Do:

  • Implement anonymous feedback systems to encourage honest input.
  • Actively solicit feedback and show that it is valued and acted upon.
  • Set up a regular schedule for reviewing and responding to feedback, ensuring that all employees see that their input leads to timely action and isn’t just collected and forgotten.


5. Psychological Safety Training


What to Do:

  • Provide training for leaders and employees on the principles of psychological safety.
  • Incorporate psychological safety into DEI and HR training programs.
  • Include interactive workshops that simulate workplace scenarios to help employees practice responses in a safe environment, reinforcing learning through experience.


6. Leadership Development


What to Do:

  • Equip leaders with skills to promote empathy, inclusion, and support.
  • Encourage leadership styles that create a positive work environment.
  • Introduce peer coaching programs among leaders to share best practices and challenges, fostering a supportive network among management to enhance psychological safety.


7. Identifying Unconscious Bias


What to Do:

  • Train employees to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias.
  • Integrate bias-interruption strategies into decision-making processes.


8. Promoting Equity and Inclusion


What to Do:

  • Ensure diverse representation in leadership and decision-making roles.
  • Create equitable opportunities for all employees.
  • Develop a recognition program that celebrates employees who actively contribute to an inclusive workplace, promoting a culture of equity and recognition.


9. Supporting Mental Health and Well-Being


What to Do:

  • Provide access to mental health resources and support services.
  • Promote Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and wellness initiatives.
  • Offer regular mindfulness and relaxation training sessions to help employees manage stress in real-time, not just through external programs.


10. Encouraging Work-Life Balance


What to Do:

  • Implement policies that support flexible work arrangements.
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance through organizational practices.
  • Introduce mandatory "off-the-grid" days where employees are encouraged to disconnect completely from work, helping to reset and reduce burnout.


11. Empowering Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)


What to Do:

  • Support the formation and activities of ERGs.
  • Provide resources and platforms for ERGs to voice their concerns and initiatives.
  • Provide leadership training for ERG leaders, equipping them with skills to manage their groups effectively and advocate for their causes within the organization.

12. Facilitating Cross-ERG Collaboration


What to Do:

  • Encourage collaboration between different ERGs to foster a united and inclusive workplace.
  • Support joint initiatives that address common goals.


13. Setting Clear Goals and Metrics


What to Do:

  • Establish measurable goals for psychological safety initiatives.
  • Use data and feedback to assess progress and make improvements.


14. Regular Reviews and Adjustments


What to Do:

  • Conduct regular reviews of psychological safety policies and practices.
  • Make necessary adjustments based on feedback and changing organizational needs.

Download the PDF Checklist


Conclusion

Promoting psychological safety is an ongoing commitment that requires the effort of DEI, HR, and ERG leaders. By fostering a culture of psychological safety, organizations can enhance team performance, innovation, and employee engagement. Start by implementing the strategies outlined in this article, and remember that creating a psychologically safe workplace is a continuous journey.


About Disclo

Disclo’s patented, HIPAA-compliant platform streamlines the workplace accommodations request process. Self-guided workflows encourage staff to disclose medical conditions and request accommodations privately. End-to-end case management tools automate and simplify time-consuming tasks, like medical verifications and EEOC benchmarking. The platform integrates with your existing HR tech stack for seamless information exchange across your organization. Disclo’s platform is designed to improve efficiency, limit legal risk, and build employer-employee trust. For more information on how the platform works, visit www.disclo.com/platform.


Sources and Supporting Statistics


By following these guidelines, leaders can create a psychologically safe work environment where team members feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best work.

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