Let’s talk diversity and inclusion. Because you know what sucks? One-dimensionality. It’s booooring. Variety is the spice of life, mos. Everywhere you look, people are searching for variety. We have a different outfit for every mood, we chop and change our hair, we flit from one Netflix series to the next, we download countless hours of music so we have the right soundtrack for everything from a below-the-streetlight breakup to a can-I-get-a-HELL-yeah, Rocky-on-the-stairs-style workout. So why do we imagine that a workplace without variety could ever be a good idea?
Listen, we’re not saying there aren’t many businesses out there fighting the good fight. There are! Check out these 20 international companies, for instance. Doesn’t it just make you want to jump for joy? It’s this kind of conscious movement towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace that gets us all sorts of excited.
If you feel like your company’s diversity and inclusion policies aren’t up to snuff, it’s about time to get with the programme and do something about it. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but the fact of the matter is that the new generation has already started to infiltrate the ranks and the top talent you need to take your enterprise to the next level in years to come won’t be too keen on taking on a stodgy, one-dimensional company culture, no matter how fat the paycheck may be.
Happily, there are a few ways that you can start to improve diversity and inclusion in your company, starting today. Here goes:
Understand that belonging is a psychological need
When we talk about an inclusive culture, many leaders and managers are quick to link a commitment to diversity to sexual orientations, skin colour and the like. In fact, this is the wrong way around. By focusing on differences, you are steering away from the core foundation on which the notion of diversity and inclusion is built - the need to belong. The human need to belong in a group is not a nice-to-have, it's a cannot-do-without. In fact, it's coded into your brain chemistry! When a person does not feel welcomed by a group, or safe and secure in their environment, they are not able to do their best work. If you do one thing today to further inclusion in your workplace, take this fact to heart.
You can read more here 👉Employee Recognition: The ultimate kickstart for a great company culture
Lead with empathy at all times
When you’re driving diversity in the workplace, you’ll eventually end up at the helm of a diverse workforce with lots of strong personalities. This is great, because it will most definitely up business performance, but it also presents a challenge to the leader of the pack. The only thing that works in an environment in which you have to smooth the way for collaboration between individuals from all walks of life is to do so with empathy. Weigh every situation that arises on its own merits and act from a place of understanding and compassion. Find that human core and embrace it.
Don't equate quotas with inclusion
In South Africa, we’re very aware of ethnic diversity and how important it is that all races, ethnicities and genders enjoy equal rights in the workplace. This is also why most of us are keenly aware that quotas don’t equate inclusion. If you are to tailor a company culture that promotes inclusivity across the board, it has to run deeper than the candidates you appoint. You have to take a good, hard look at the end-to-end employee experience, with the aim to create the conditions that foster inclusion on a daily basis, as well as finding ways to measure the impact thereof.
You can read more here 👉5 Companies with a great company culture (and how they did it)
Amp up joy, minimise fear
Do you want to know the very best way to drive your diverse talent pool towards competitive advantage and a sense of belonging? Amp up joy and minimise fear. Recognise and reward outstanding achievements and positive behaviour instead of focusing on failures and instilling a fear of humiliation. By joining your workforce together in moments of celebration, instead of shining the spotlight on instances of less-than-coolness, you set the stage for natural inclusive behaviour.
Just in case you skimmed to the bottom of the article due to a serious time crunch, here are the crib notes. If you want to promote diversity and inclusion in your business. You can start by understanding that belonging is a psychological need, leading with empathy at all times, not equating quotas with inclusion and amping up joy while minimising fear.
Would you like more resources to help your business steer towards a brighter and more inclusive future? Step right up!
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