TOWARDS A MORE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE: A discovery workshop to listen, inspire meaningful action and cultivate a more inclusive work environment.

How might we create a more inclusive workplace environment? This was the question posed to WeWork as it critically looked at how to better design WeWork’s product with diversity, equity and inclusivity in mind. Co-facilitator and Architecture Design Manager Micheal Caton and I were invited to design and facilitate an envisioning session with the We of Color (WoC) employee community group (ECG), as part of an ongoing effort to improve the inclusivity of WeWork’s workplace environment and it’s underlying culture. As Micheal Caton captures in his synopsis of the workshop design, “the opportunity to tackle such a central, sensitive theme was both exhilarating and daunting. We approached the envisioning session with three goals;

1. Empower employees to share their perspective in as candid and fulsome a way possible.

2. Equip workshop participants with the tools to create solutions and proposals through their combined experience.

3. Create a prioritized, actionable strategy for improvement, borne out of a co-creative process.

“I felt recognized, like my voice at the company was being heard.”

The workshop was considered one touchpoint in a multi-channel initiative to listen and bring diverse voices to the C-Suite that otherwise may not be heard. As designer and facilitator of the experience- my take aways include:

  • Participants value both the experience, but also being exposed to new frameworks for divergent and convergent thinking. Many people wanted to learn the techniques we used to bring back to their own regional communities. We used many design thinking frameworks borrowed from our Luma Institute program.
  • While this was seen as a ‘one time’ workshop, participants gave us the feedback that they would like an ongoing conversation using a similar framework where they could continue the work and dialogue.
  • The problem framing and ideation generated was prioritized by the participants and shared with the executive team. The initiatives recommended varied from ‘low handing fruit’ (low cost, high impact) to ‘Long Term Strategy’ (high cost, high impact).
A participant reflects on the gallery wall of posted anonymized survey responses to the question: What does inclusivity at work mean to you? These statements were used to generate our participant lead co-created affinity map.
Micheal Caton summarizes the groups ‘Affinity Mapping’ activity, helping us find the most salient themes to explore for the workshop ideation activity.
Breakout groups were asked to chose one theme and use a ‘creative matrix’ to generate many possible solutions (via space, technology, professional development, culture and norms) to the ‘how might we…statement’. Groups shared the work and picked the strongest ideas to move to the last activity.
Groups plotted their ideas on a priority matrix, asking themselves- on X axis: Is this a HIGH or LOW impact to our community on the Y axis: Does this require a HIGH or LOW amount of resources (money, time, decision making). Together the groups generated a larger map of priorities. Things we can do right away with high impact, vs things that might take longer but work the effort. This helped the executive team see from the WoC community perspective what matters most.