This episode was about the Joy Recipe Ingredient Belonging at Work. We were very happy to discuss with our guest Vivian Acquah and have her insights about the Joy Superpower of Nurturing Peer Relationships. Vivian is a dedicated advocate for inclusive Workplace Wellness.
The journey to reach her current position in life was not always easy. Throughout her career, she worked as a financial consultant and in IT. She encountered difficulties of bullying and toxic work environment after announcing her pregnancy. She decided to leave the company for her son’s and her own health. With time, she decided to take advantage of the situation to remodel her role. She chose promoting Wellness and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in workplaces.
Employees need to be given DEI tools
To begin our discussion, Vivian shared with us that colleagues play a central role to foster a sense of wellbeing and purpose in the workplace. Specialized in DEI, she pointed the difficulty of putting all the weight on one responsible person in a company. Moreover, companies should focus on giving the tools to their employees to effectively create equitable and inclusive environments. Studies such as the last McKinsey report of 2020 show that diversity is profitable. However, it requires some work and adequate tools.
With a smart food analogy, Vivian highlighted that only leaving the ingredients for a pizza on a kitchen table aren’t of any use. Energy and attention need to be put to prepare, mix, cook them to finally enjoy its taste.
“If you put the ingredients on the kitchen table, do you think you can magically create a pizza?”
She strongly encouraged leaders to dare asking for help when facing difficulties, for instance by hiring a coach or a facilitator. She also recommends companies to be more transparent about the process of promoting their values.
Throughout our conversation, we also evoked how remote work gave insight into people’s lives. Vivian reminded how these work practices affect peer to peer relations. She advised to avoid hybrid meetings which might develop a sense of exclusion. She favors entirely remote meetings, or only in person to promote people’s feeling of inclusion.
In fact, inclusion is essential for employees. If people don’t feel included, don’t have the sense of belonging in a company, it might lead them to look for a job elsewhere. Vivian reminded as well how constant changes within a company affect its environment and growth. For her, the secret is to work on inclusion.
“Companies that have a higher revenue, it’s also because they pay attention to inclusion”
We also talked about the well-known phenomenon of Great Resignation. This mass awakening calls for humanizing practices in the workforce. Everyone realizes that work is a big part of one’s life, and want to feel aligned with the companies’ values one is working for.
Finally, she gave several tips to nurture peer to peer relationships in the workplace. Vivian’s three top tips are:
- Go beyond the simple “how are you” to engage in authentic conversations.
- Ask your peers what makes them tick, what is their favorite movie character, what food they prefer.
- Consciously strengthen and unlock your empathy.
- Vivian expressed how Virtual Reality can be useful in helping people put themselves in another person’s shoes which is the basis of empathy.
- Activate your inclusive mindset and do your best.
- Analyzing one’s unconscious biases is a fundamental step in the process. For this, Vivian recommended the Harvard Implicit Association Test.
To go further on these topics, Vivian recommended the book The Memo by Minda Harts, as well as Abraham Kendi’s work on antiracism. If you want to find out more about the work Vivian is doing, she has made many sources available, namely podcasts, books, videos, channels…. You can check her own Youtube channel, her LinkedIn, websites https://vivalavive.com/ https://lead21.amplifydei.com/ and Apple Podcasts.
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