29 Mar Building on Diversity Through Inclusivity
Diversity is the buzzword for this year, and its identity as a buzzword unfortunately makes its implementation somewhat shallow in particular workplaces.
Why should leaders champion inclusivity? Nobody is perfect, and through working together, everyone’s cumulative difference in experiences, backgrounds, views, and values, can complete and elevate solutions beyond what one person can achieve, even if they are the leader
While it’s always a good idea to have the faces in your company represent a wide range of backgrounds, it isn’t enough to simply hire a diverse range of people in order to check off ‘Diversity’ on your company’s mission statement bucket list. Certain companies, despite their on paper commitment to representing as many people from different backgrounds within their team, still have minority groups be underrepresentation, underpromoted, and not given the avenue to show off their skills and be able to thrive and develop as they would like to.
This is where inclusion comes in. While striving for a diverse workforce is a worthy goal, it is important to make sure that the underrepresented in your workforce are able to flourish in their role the way the visible majority is able to. By ‘the underrepresented’, we mean religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and differently abled workers, and to be inclusive means to make reforms within your organization and its culture, so that the behaviors displayed, systems implemented, and the symbols representing the company are inclusive, so your company not only has a variety of backgrounds represented, but also creates a path for all these people to have an equal opportunity to develop their careers.
While it seems almost intuitive to make sure that all your employees are receiving the same opportunities to learn, develop their skills, and excel in the workplace, the implementation of such a system doesn’t come to a workplace as naturally as just hiring a diverse group of people. An initiative led by top management and leadership is important in order to become symbols for inclusion within the organization.
For example, as much as we believe ourselves to be open and fair minded in our judgement of people, our experiences & cultural environment can instill unconscious biases, which, within a workplace, can damage the inclusive culture your organization has set out to achieve. To remove these unconscious biases, it is important to train your workers to recognize such biases in order to make your workplace more inclusive. To remove these unconscious biases, it is important to train your workers to recognize such biases, which include similarity, gender, and confirmation biases, to make sure that these biases are eliminated on all levels, especially at the hiring process, including making the language of your job posting as neutral as possible, and standardizing interview questions.
In addition to making sure that your people work on undoing their unconscious biases, an important next step is to make sure that every voice is heard and that every worker has the opportunity to contribute. Behaviors displayed by such a culture include linking people to projects where their lived experience and unique background are part of their role, framing meetings as conversations in order to encourage dialogue and foster more out-of-the-box solutions, within meetings, encouraging team leaders to seek out those whose voices aren’t often heard, and to encourage them to speak out in ways that don’t put them on the spot.
Lastly, why should leaders of organizations pay attention to their diversity and inclusivity initiatives? In a globalized world, organizations must push themselves to embody inclusive values, in order to meet the demands of a globalized work landscape that increasingly requires a mindset shaped by a diverse and inclusive environment. Within an organization that champions inclusivity, workers will develop the cultural awareness, intelligence, and experience of working with a diverse team from which they can pull effective solutions.
Innovative organizations that consistently stay ahead of the pack are led by equally innovative leaders. Innovative leaders are always open minded and open to possibilities for innovation from anywhere, and know that great ideas can come from just about anyone.