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Onboarding & Equity

Kristen Buchanan

When a company has established systems and culture around work, it can be hard to find situations to step back and examine equity. It’s not impossible, but some companies might feel “stuck” or “rooted” in their current systems.

New hire onboarding offers a unique window to address questions of equity head-on. Each time a company hires an employee, they have the opportunity to ensure the onboarding process is inclusive and equitable.

In truth, equity should exist long before onboarding begins. This includes recruiting and vetting of applicants, and decisions on which candidate to hire.

But onboarding is the first point at which a company can demonstrate how equity fits into the company culture. It’s the new hire’s first on-the-job experience of the company, making it the perfect opportunity to showcase equitable systems.

And because equity can be illustrated so clearly, onboarding is also a chance for companies to re-examine systems that need to be more equitable.

So how do you incorporate equity into onboarding?

A great place to start is to discuss power structures that exist and talk to the new hire about engaging with coworkers and managers from an equitable perspective.

Also clarify how they should expect to be treated in the workplace, and what to do if they are treated otherwise at any point.

If your company doesn’t have an onboarding system, you’re in luck; you have the opportunity to build your system with equity at the forefront.

The process of reworking company culture (or starting from scratch) can seem overwhelming, and it pays to ask for help. Sometimes the best resource is your own community; ask your employees what they need and want in terms of equity, and what they currently experience in the workplace.

What are norms, expectations, and behaviors — both tacit and explicit — that your new hire can expect? That information is crucial for new employees. A great onboarding process can help explain all of those things.

What if your onboarding process isn’t equitable?

Sometimes when companies explore the concept equity, they realize that their current processes aren’t truly equitable. Policies for employee leave, compensation, and promotions are all areas where companies may notice that equity is lacking.

The best companies own those equity blind spots and make inclusivity a priority.

This demonstrates to employees (both incoming and current) that equity is a priority, not an item on the company culture “wish list.”

Your new hires can even participate in improving equity throughout their onboarding process, making them more connected to their own onboarding and to the company culture.

At Edify, we think this is one of the most critical ways that onboarding can be a driver of equity in your company. Learn more about how we can help you shape onboarding for your new engineers.


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