Diversity in the Workplace is More than Just Black or White
It's 2019 and diversity in the work place is less of a “what-if” and more of a “must have.” Diversity in the workplace should be celebrated, and inclusion should be common practice at your company. As a leader you have a basic obligation to your team to make each team member feel connected, comfortable, valued and respected at work. A good leader can make it all look easy. If you’re struggling, of course, you should get professional assistance but here are a few concepts to point you in the right direction.
As a leader you respect everyone on your team, this much is obvious. But you should also understand and respect the experience each member brings. Understand your team – how you all work together as a whole but also how each person’s unique contribution is valuable. Further, your team members should have a respect for each other. It’s one thing to understand differences, it’s quite another to respect each other and be able to work together. Your messaging to your diverse team should come from the examples you set. Your team’s understanding and respect for diversity should extend to generational sensitivity too. No more blaming millennials and seasoned employees for perceived short-comings or mis-steps. These stereotypes and punch lines should have no place in your company today.
When communication is good, it sets the pace for all team members. When it’s bad - not clear or not happening - there can be confusion, mistrust and a host of other problems. You need to get your messages about diversity and inclusion to your team in a clear and meaningful way. Once you develop your company’s vision of diversity it’s not enough to file it away in the company handbook. Talk about it. Get in front of your team and be proud to tell them why it’s important. Listen and be open to suggestions from perspectives outside of your own. Additionally, your team should have the tools to successfully communicate with each other across differences without you in the mix. Your diversity policy must be threaded through all aspects of the organization from email to conflict resolution and more.
What is Inclusion?
As you are celebrating and empowering your team, you should also have a deeper understanding of inclusion. Is your company equally accessible for people of all abilities, backgrounds and cultures? Are your hiring practices inclusive? While diversity celebrates everyone’s differences, inclusion is the active policy of creating a company where everyone is welcome and can thrive, contribute and succeed.
Diversity Drives Innovation
Good news! Diversity on your team is gift in many ways. The best of all is innovation. We all have different backgrounds, experiences and skills. This alone could be a primary driver in your company’s innovation. Pulling from your teams’ diverse backgrounds could mean a million new innovations for your company. Embrace this diversity and let it feed your company. And if you need more confirmation that your company needs innovation more than ever click here .
Diversity is not a one-size-fits-all situation. As we accept and celebrate our differences, we must learn how to work together and be successful. And the bottom line is this: if you are struggling with this topic, don’t let it bring your team and your company down. There are so many great resources and ways to craft your message to your team.
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