If you want to be a great leader, you need to make sure that every member of your team feels safe, welcome, and included. While issues like religion and culture come to mind here, other strongly held beliefs, like veganism, are also important to consider.
Without the right culture and leadership, vegan employees might suffer teasing from colleagues, a lack of options when it comes to catered events, or discomfort at being asked to carry out certain tasks. To ensure that your vegan employees feel safe and respected, follow the tips below.
1. Make Sure Vegan Options Are Available
It sounds obvious, but many employers fall at the first hurdle by failing to provide adequate vegan options for staff. If you work in a building with an onsite cafeteria, make sure that there is always at least one vegan meal option - preferably more. Remember that a vegetarian option won’t always be vegan, and look for simple changes that could be made to dishes, like removing cheese or mayo.
You should also consider your vegan employees when buying snacks to eat during meetings, bringing in cakes to celebrate a birthday, or booking a work Christmas dinner. Your employees will really appreciate the effort, and you’ll be setting a great example.
2. Watch out for Bullying and Harassment
Most of us have observed mild teasing of vegetarians and vegans - whether on TV, in satirical ad campaigns by fast food companies, or in person. However, what might be viewed as friendly banter by one person could be considered deeply hurtful or offensive by another.
Keeping a close eye on your team dynamic and stepping in if you feel that good-natured teasing is becoming hurtful is a good move. It’s also worth highlighting your policy on bullying and harassment and letting staff know who to talk to if they’re having a problem.
3. Ask Employees If They Require Any Special Accommodations
Attending a marketing conference and got a booth right next to a burger company? Or need someone to visit a pig farm you’re supplying with a new piece of software? Depending on their personal beliefs and preferences, vegan employees may not feel comfortable carrying out duties like this. It’s important to keep the conversation open and make accomodations wherever you can. In many cases, it’s easy to swap tasks around so that everyone on the team is assigned tasks they’re comfortable with.
The legal rights of vegans at work vary from country to country, and The Vegan Society provides more detailed information on European Law and veganism.
4. Create a Culture of Understanding and Respect
There are many ways that your employees will differ from one another, so creating a culture of understanding and respect is the most important thing you can do. Start with simple steps like listening to employees via regular feedback and showing that you care by making positive changes.
Look closely at your interactions with all your staff, and ensure that you’re fully present, thoughtful, and open-minded. This attitude will trickle down to the rest of the organisation, making employees feel safe and welcome no matter what they eat, wear, or believe.
Vegan employees can sometimes feel excluded at work. Ensure that your workplace is welcoming and inclusive by providing vegan options, making special accomodations where possible, and creating a culture of understanding and respect.