What We Can Learn About Workplace Inclusion From Martin Luther King Jr.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

That by far is my favorite quote from the late Martin Luther King jr. because it spoke to the courage of the convictions he had when he was alive. I find that this same attitude is essential as you strive to create an inclusive work environment. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs but I also feel like there's one lesson that we can learn from the life he led and that is... 

Lead By Example

“I neither started the project nor suggested it. I simply responded to the call of the people for a spokesman” – Martin Luther King, 1958

Love this particular quote because Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that there was a problem and simply took it upon himself to be the symbol of the change he wanted to see represented. Another important thing here is that he sought to be a spokesperson of a group of people that weren't being included in America. SO important!

As a leader in your workplace, you should know what is important to all the stakeholders in your company and why.

  • Seek to understand what you don't understand
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable

To inspire the type of change you want to see in your organization, you have to lead by example and set the stage. Your title is just a name but your action is the real game.  To play the game the right way, consider the following:

  • Create opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that employees feel more comfortable: This allows you to learn about the interests, cultural backgrounds and motivations of your colleagues. It also increases trust and understanding which ultimately creates inclusion.
  • Ensure all employees have the opportunity to take part in decision-making and planning for social activities: Whether it is potlucks or lunch and learns, let every employee get a chance to be part of the decision making process.
  • Revamp your calendar to include multicultural, religious and international days:  Chances are you work with people fro multiple backgrounds and with that being the case, there's bound to be a day that aligns with them culturally, religiously or otherwise. Include things like International Womens, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, International Day to End Racism, & Gay Pride celebrations. If you want to score extra inclusive points, you could offer a float day for employees to use at their discretion to observe such events or days

These are all ways to lead by example. You set a good example by valuing each individual’s opinions and making everyone feel comfortable sharing and expressing themselves fully in the workplace.

 So What Can You Learn?

Beyond the significant contributions Dr. King’s made to our society, his methods and reactions remain as important lessons for us to apply in any challenging situation. From confronting difficult relationships with peers to challenging accepted social norms to even overcoming unconscious bias, he left a trail of lessons that each of us can apply in our own lives and workplaces.

So what can you learn? Lead by example.



10 Commandments of Incorporating Diversity and Inclusion In The Workplace

Today's post is on the 10 commandments of incorporating diversity and inclusion into your workplace. I believe that diversity and inclusion should be approached with a top-down, bottom-up strategy. Engaging your employees at all levels is one of the most effective ways to reach critical mass and communicate the import of inclusion and diversity. Most times employees are willing to join in the process but lack the confidence and understanding to take action.

This post will provide some concrete tips designed to engage employees at all levels of the organization. Remember it is essential to commit to the process, value the ideas of everyone, and celebrate along the way.

  1. THOU Shall Be CULTURALLY AWARE: You can't advance if you're not aware of your biases or perceptions on different cultures. Once you understand your biases, you'll be able overcome them. My recommendation would be to take the Implicit Association Test (IAT) herehttps://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
  2. THOU Shall Ask More Questions: Now that you're aware of your biases, let's explore. IMPROVE on your cultural competencies by making a commitment to learning about different races, cultures, religions and backgrounds represented by those around you. Ask your coworkers to share with you some of the practices and customs associated with their cultures. LISTEN, and make yourself familiar with several diversity-related terms and explore your curiosity.
  3. THOU Shall LEVERAGE Your Differences: Diversity has to do with the differences around you and now that you have made an effort to understanding the differences around you, it's now time to leverage them. This is essentially what INCLUSION is. A good leader is one that is able to create an environment where each and everyone of his/her employees feel safe enough to be themselves.
  4. THOU Shall CONNECT Diversity Initiatives to Your Business Objectives: Devote yourself to the process by understanding how your role is impacted by diversity initiatives and how it aligns with your business objectives. In this complex global world we live in today, inevitably complex issues arise so for your business to succeed, it is imperative that your company is ready to tackle these challenges whether it has to do with entering new markets, winning new clients, and manage diverse talent. KNOW the diversity visions and goals of your organization and how it connects to the overall business objectives.
  5. THOU Shall FULLY PARTICIPATE in employee engagement surveys. Fully participating means responding as honestly and openly as possible. It is usually advisable to find an internal champion with whom you can comfortably show your concerns and/or elicit advice to support your efforts. Alternatively, you could hire an external consultant to do an audit of your company and help assess your current diversity initiatives versus your business initiatives.
  6. THOU Shall INVOLVE yourself in the diversity efforts of your organizations. You can start by partaking in an employee Resource Group, volunteer to serve or chair on committees that organize diversity-related activities. Consider starting out as a mentor, mentee, or a team of co-mentoring relationship. All these activities will require your time commitment but they prove to be valuable as it helps teams develop personally and professionally. 
  7. THOU Shall UNDERSTAND Your Diversity: Diversity doesn't just come in the form of race, culture, and gender but also features elements such as socio-economic background, sexual orientation, education level, geographic location, thought, and lot more. Everybody has something to bring to the table. What is your contribution?
  8. THOU Shall Be a PARADOX: Diversity fosters innovation which is a direct result of creativity. To tap into this creativity, get comfortable being in positions where opinions differ from yours greatly.  You never know what you will come out of it. 
  9. THOU Shall Be An ALLY: Speak actively on diversity issues that aren’t even your own. Any organization will find it hard ignoring the power of the voice created when groups representing different diversity dimensions unify. Also, part of being an ally is making sure you are careful about using offensive and stereotypical remarks. Common social practices that are comfortable for you may not be the same for everyone.
  10. THOU Shall DEDICATE Yourself To Continuous Improvement: Be open to learning, accept feedback, and be ready to listen to the concerns of your colleagues. There is still an opportunity for growth in even the most enlightened individual. 

Remember leveraging diversity isn’t a destination. It is a journey. A journey that takes time, patience, and perseverance. 

The Benefits of Being Multilingual with Lina Abisoghomyan

SPECIAL EPISODE ALERT! Today’s episode is with Lina Abisoghomyan! Remember her from episode 208? Yup! Well she’s being gracious enough to do a special mini episode with us today. Today, she breaks down what the benefits are of being multilingual!

If you’re thinking of a New Year’s resolution, definitely consider picking up a language or two. The benefits are tremendous!

To catch Lina’s last episode, take a listen here: http://www.uydmedia.com/lina-abisoghomyan-the-diplomat-of-the-future/

To find out more about Lina’s company, click here: www.policypear.com

I did a Use Your Difference  episode on how to learn a language without moving abroad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkbuJ4l6rJI

Enjoy the holidays! I think I might drop another episode this week so stay tuned!

Catch this special episode here or below: