No one should be compelled to answer this question to feel more inclusive.
When you begin to think about diversity and inclusion, thoughts that may come to your mind could be the fight against racism, sexism, or ageism. Diversity and inclusion in a workplace goes so far beyond race, and other factors come into play. There are benefits that your company can be rewarded with when you create an inclusive workplace environment. When inclusivity is introduced into the workplace, operational efficiency and effectiveness can benefit the company through cutting costs and gaining customers. Two ways to ensure an inclusive atmosphere are to be aware of any unconscious bias and strategically integrate employees.
Today, women are attaining more leadership roles, globalization has arrived, and there’s more diversity in the workplace. Despite all the wonderful benefits of this rapid change in demographics, we run the risk of encountering more misunderstandings than ever before.
Poor and ineffective team collaboration can cost money, waste time, create setbacks, and hinder production. Diversity, equity and inclusion within an organization are important factors that contribute towards operational efficiency and alignment . When an organization aligns with diversity and inclusion with efficiency, the results can be astounding. Organizations that welcome diversity into their workplace, employees can feel comfortable around their coworkers, which will improve productivity and efficiency.
Every individual’s opinion is valuable, even when there is conflict or a diverse range of ideas. Most well-respected leaders stretch beyond the basics to recognize others’ contributions to the whole and realize that knowledge, skills, abilities, enthusiasm, along with level of team contribution, and passion for the work at hand may vary among team members. Honoring each person for his or her involvement creates the foundation for a great team.
As leaders, we must become more open to Answering the Call by Facilitating Awareness. Building awareness amongst your direct reports and employees is a first real step towards diversity and inclusion within your company. To avoid having to answer questions or the need to justify or explain differences or preferences that may appear disrespectful.
Here are a few helpful tips:
1. Be aware of unconscious bias
Unconscious bias (or implicit bias) is a prejudice or unsupported judgement in favor of or against a thing, individual, or group that is considered unfair. Some uncontrollable factors one might have implicit bias are the color of one’s skin, gender, age, location where they were born, who they’re attracted to and both invisible and visible disabilities.
So, how does this affect the workplace environment every day? The first step of limiting the impact unconscious biases have on your organization is making sure everyone is aware that they exist. Your unconscious bias will affect how you treat others and how you think about certain topics.
Here are some prominent examples of how bias manifests in the workplace.
Mansplaining. During a team meeting, a female member makes a point that no one seems to feel too strongly about. Ten minutes later, a male member of the team makes the same point—and everyone jumps on board with “his” idea. Companies that allow this kind of behavior to exist at the workplace will discourage women from sharing their ideas.
Preferring candidates with certain names. Foreign-sounding names were significantly less likely to be called into an interview than candidates with “Anglo” sounding names, which preclude them from interviewing a more diverse set of candidates.
The halo effect. Preference based on one specific characteristic of their personality or appearance. When someone is perceived as attractive, people tend to conclude that they have other positive attributes without any evidence or interaction with the person. For example, if we think someone is good looking, we’ll probably also think they are super intelligent and charismatic. Pretty doesn’t necessarily equal smart, rich, famous, or compelling.
Unconscious bias is not just limited to biological sex or perceived gender; an unconscious bias can be racism, ageism, ableism, or bias against the wider LGBT community. Creating an environment in which this is not tolerated can be beneficial to one’s company because this creates space for everyone to be creative without judgment. When most employees experience a safe space, they are more inclined to think freely and outside of the box. Create a culture of ZERO tolerance for disrespect!
2. Strategically integrate employees.
Mix up your teams to help improve diversity and inclusion. This can help improve everyone’s appreciation and valuing of diversity and improve experiential learning between team members. When considering the formation of teams, take as many possible differences among members into account. Try to find ways that a team’s individual differences can help to strengthen the team’s ability to get to the company’s mission goals.
Here are some things to consider when integrating a team:
Be very forthcoming about what is expected from all members within the leadership team. Provide each member the blueprint of the goal and the strategy that will propel them to achieve the goal.
Make diversity, inclusion and cultural difference the focus while deepening cultural self-awareness by creating exercises that will force all team members to retreat from the comfort zone of what they do and who they know. Also, promoting mingling amongst the team members will increase relationships around diversity and inclusion.
Design team building games and think of facts that individuals have in common that are not visible on the surface. For example, ask questions like, ‘who does not like cheese?’ Random elements can create a dialog amongst members that will eventually lead to building a report between one another.
By knowing who the players are, connecting and influencing talent, valuing individual and group differences, and communicating the mission of the team effectively, you can inspire your team members to look beyond their individual self-interest and harness their collective talent to achieve extraordinary ends. Other strategies to include in promoting inclusivity is to let people learn by doing, valuing all differences, asking questions and providing mentors.