Creating a Thriving Inclusive Environment in the Workplace – with Kathryn Montbriand

Today’s corporations are trying to create diversity in the workplace, and while this is an important goal, Kathryn Montbriand believes that what is even more important is to create a corporate culture of inclusivity. Katie uses her personal experience to pioneer inclusion in the workplace. Listen to this episode of NextFem as Katie and I discuss why an inclusive environment is so important in the workplace and how to help create inclusion in large corporations or when on-boarding new team members to your own small business.

Creating an inclusive environment leads to a more productive workplace

Katie has spent her career finding the best ways to create an inclusive environment in her corporate role at Capital One. Her experience abroad during grad school led her to really understand what it felt like to be a fish out of water. Katie has tried to use this experience to ensure that others will not have this feeling when they begin a new job in a different corporate culture. In this episode we learn why it’s not just diversity that is important in the workplace, we learn how creating an inclusive environment can lead to establishing a more productive workplace.

As humans, we feel a deep need for belonging

During our conversation, Katie and I discuss the difference between diversity and inclusion and how it is so important to have both in the workplace. Belonging to and feeling a part of the system is very important, no matter what your ethnicity, age, or sex. An inclusive environment celebrates people’s differences. Often when a person first begins working somewhere, they feel an otherness, inclusivity helps alleviate this. Listen to find out good ways to make someone feel included especially when on-boarding a new employee. Katie provides many tips on how to create a positive and inclusive work environment.

Ageism seems to be a growing problem in the workplace

Wouldn’t it be great to have a work environment that included many diverse age ranges? There is much to learn from someone with a lifetime of experience as well as from someone fresh out of college that may have a new insight on how to do something. Part of inclusion is including those of all ages and a diverse range of skillsets. When you diversify you can include a variety of knowledge, experience, and backgrounds. Having a variety of ages in the workplace can provide so much value to the working environment. Katie gives us pointers on how to create the diagram of the perfect team. We have a tendency to want to surround ourselves with sameness, but diverse voices give us so much perspective and can lead to a variety of expertise in the workplace.

It’s time to get comfortable with vulnerability

How do we talk about the stuff that’s hard to talk about? There are times when we are all vulnerable, even the strongest of us go through challenges. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is provide yourself with self-compassion. But isolating yourself through the rough times can make it even harder to pull out of depression. Katie and I discuss self-compassion and mental health and we delve deep into challenging topics that you really need to hear. This is an important subject that is often considered taboo in our society, but it touches everyone. Katie feels that mental health is worth discussing, and it’s something that we need to discuss as a society. Creating safe spaces for these difficult discussions is part of creating an inclusive environment. Inclusion means making space for everyone, even those of us who struggle with mental health issues. It’s time to stop sweeping these problems under the rug. Listen in to our discussion to hear how you can help make a safe environment to discuss mental health issues.

Episode Highlights

  • 2:18 – What Katie wants us to know about herself
  • 6:40 – Why is diversity and inclusion important in the workplace
  • 9:03 – How do you get to inclusion
  • 11:24 – How can we be inclusive of a variety of ages in the workplace
  • 16:06 – How can you hire people that are different
  • 21:32 – On self-compassion and kindness
  • 34:56 – Discussing mental health and including these topics
  • 39:02 – The five saboteurs of a great life

Resources Mentioned

1. Favorite book for women?

2. Favorite self-care hack?

  • Sensory deprivation therapy is great for meditation and relaxation.

3. Best piece of advice and who gave it to you?

  • My father insisted that every person matters and lived his life this way, he treated everyone with respect and dignity from the smallest child to the head of corporations.

4. Female CEO or thought leader you’re into right now?

5. One piece of advice you’d give your 5 years younger self?

  • Self-compassion –  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, give yourself a break every once in awhile.”

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