7 ways you can make onboarding more inclusive

Many companies, especially companies with large technical teams have put a lot of effort into trying to hire more diverse candidates. Even with an increase in hiring of under-represented people, the retention numbers for these staff are below those of the well represented group. While there is no quick fix, there are some simple things you can incorporate into your onboarding right now to make it more inclusive. 

Ask for their preferred name and then use it 

Everyone wants to be called by their name. (I can't count the number of times I've had to say "R-E-L" not "air-E-L".) Too often companies have internal processes where they commission emails and accounts based on someone's legal name. Instead we recommend following the lead of US fintech Chime and asking employees their preferred name early on. After starting to collect this data through Dado, Chime was able to identify that roughly one-third of their new hires submit a preferred name. 

Diana Yau, People Operations Manager at Chime says, "Asking a new Chimer's preferred name is the start of building a sense of belonging for new hires at Chime; we never want to call someone by a name they don't associate with. We let them know how we structure our emails and then give them the option to confirm using their legal name or express a preferred name. This way we don't risk outing a trans person, having an employee who struggles to be found because they go by their middle name, or miss the common nicknames like Katie and Jon."

This might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure their answer is automatically synced to all employee-facing systems.

Pronouns!

In line with their name, ask employees for their pronouns. Make sure to not say “preferred” pronouns as that implies that using the proper pronoun is optional, when in fact it's not. Not everyone will want to share their pronouns, so make sure that this is optional. 

Add a diversity, equity, and inclusion session to your onboarding

If DEI is something your company values, it should be emphasized along with your company's mission and strategic objectives. Shaping a strong culture from day 1 is essential. After all, it's not just about what is accomplished but how it's accomplished. If your company doesn't have the capacity to add a full session to onboarding, try reviewing your code of conduct or communication guidelines with your new hires. Remember that everything that is highlighted in their first days at your company sends a strong message about what your organization cares about. Make sure your culture is part of it!

Have a diverse group of current staff greet your new hires

Research shows that having visible role models is incredibly important for believing something is possible for you. It's important to think about the messages you are delivering to your new hires, and that includes the message of who is delivering them. A great way to do this is to rotate volunteers to speak about different elements of your business with each cohort. This can create opportunities for staff members with less risk of tokenism. 

Ask about working needs before their first day

Some of the most challenging barriers to creating inclusive environments are those we can not see. We recommend actively asking if your new hires need or would like to have anything that will help them thrive in their role. Screen readers, keyboards, desk setups, and more all go into making an inclusive environment. In addition, be clear who a new hire should contact if they require disability accommodations .

Important holidays for them

Bob Lehto, International Head of People at OKCoin asks their new hires what days in the year are important to them, so that the company can acknowledge them. Adding a question to your new hires' first week such as, "Are there particular holidays or traditions that are important to you that you would care to share?” is a great opportunity to find ways to celebrate with your employees on the days that matter most to them. 

I can speak personally to how much of an impact this would have had for me. As someone who doesn't identify as being on the cultural or religious Christian spectrum, I dream of a world where my culture and traditions are acknowledged. (BTW my dream has come true at Dado! I hope to help others feel the same.)  

Leverage Impact Job Descriptions throughout the process

Jossie Haines, VP of Software Engineering & Head of DEI at Tile, leverages impact job descriptions not just for hiring, but to also reduce bias during the hiring process. She says “Impact job descriptions include 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals for the employee.  You’ve done the hard work to create those goals, so why not leverage them during the onboarding process to reduce bias.  Women tend to get less concrete technical feedback than men at review time.  One way to combat this is by starting with setting clear goals from day 1 to be able to then clearly tie feedback to those goals.  So leverage the goals you created in your job descriptions and use them as the basis for the goals you set with your new hire starting on their first week.”

What else?

We at Dado believe in creating equitable and personalized employee experiences. We believe that technology can help identify and address opportunities and challenges in a sustainable way. I'd love to hear what you are doing at your organization. Do you have any tips or ideas that you want to share? Let us know!

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