Colgate-Palmolive Company: Building Inclusive Teams to Grow– A DE&I Imperative

At Colgate-Palmolive, we’re building an organization grounded in diversity, equity and inclusion, where all Colgate People feel we belong and can be our authentic selves. With the Colgate brand in more homes than any other – and Colgate’s essential health & hygiene products in more than 200 countries – we know that being diverse, equitable and inclusive is the key that enables our continued growth and helps us advance our purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all.

We strive for inclusion and belonging by inviting and embracing diverse people, perspectives, experiences and opinions at every level of the organization. Importantly, our view of diversity is broad, not only accounting for people’s ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and ability, but also their personality, religion, culture, socio-economic background and any other source of identity. We aim to acknowledge and celebrate each person as their authentic self: the whole, distinctive individual that they are.

We all play a role in building a sense of belonging in our respective organizations, and people managers in particular have a critical role to play. Having open and candid conversations among teams is a great starting point for any organization seeking to build a sense of belonging and authenticity among its people. Here are a few useful guidelines for managers to consider when having these conversations:

  • Provide clarity. At the start of the meeting, state the purpose – that you’re seeking to better understand the level of inclusiveness your team feels, and what you could all do differently to increase the sense of belonging. Be clear that you’re seeking to learn about ways to improve.
  • Speak openly and listen with empathy to build trust. Make it easier for team members to be open by starting your meeting with a low-risk ice breaker activity, such as two truths and a lie or asking everyone to share their hidden talent.
  • Identify concerns and ways to change. Use the following questions as potential discussion prompts:
    • What are 1-2 important things about you we should know (how you like to work, who you are outside of work, etc.)?
    • What can we do to better ensure everyone’s ideas are heard? Can you share an example of a time when you didn’t feel your ideas were being heard?
    • Which parts of you are harder to bring to work?
    • How can we create a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging?

These kinds of team discussions – facilitated by managers and ideally taking place two or three times a year – will allow team members to interact with each other in a way that recognizes each person’s unique qualities and perspectives and raises overall awareness of what inclusion really looks and feels like. Individuals should participate fully and with candor, helping to build their own sense of belonging through genuine and open dialogue.

It is the combination of diversity and inclusiveness that allows us as organizations, and as individuals, to benefit from the varied experiences and perspectives that each person brings to the table. It doesn’t just happen. It takes effort, listening, empathy, learning and behavioral change. Let’s not seek to create organizations filled with people just like ourselves, but embrace and value our differences to be even stronger and grow.

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