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.
- 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) here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.