In this diversity series, we’ve discussed the importance of self-awareness and understanding other groups to create a more effective work environment for a diverse workforce.
At the bare minimum, anyone who works in a diverse workforce needs to do the personal self-awareness work it takes to effectively understand other people to create a more innovative team and organizational solutions.
But once you have diverse teams working effectively toward shared goals, the work toward diversity doesn’t end. Each has a responsibility to contribute to the movement of diversity and inclusion in the workplace as well as in their circles of influence. Here are five strategies anyone can use to contribute to the diversity and inclusion movement: personally, and professionally.
1. Be actively aware of corporate goals.
Don’t just know the corporate diversity goals and how they relate to your team and the overall business goals. It’s one thing to know, but it’s something else entirely to support the corporate diversity and overall business goals actively. Share job vacancies within your circle of influence. Share on social media and ask people to make referrals.
Common objection. D&I isn’t part of my job description. It’s not my responsibility.
Just this year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a new study that looked at over 1700 companies in 8 different counties and found companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.
Regardless of job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities, diversity and inclusion impact bottom lines and bottom lines affect employment for everyone.
2. Own Outcomes
Whether you’re working toward corporate or personal goals, sometimes we miss the mark. It happens. As an employee, team member, or manager, take it upon yourself to own the outcome. “What could you have done to create a more favorable outcome? When everyone reflects at that level about team initiatives, they become a high-performing team.
Common objection. I can’t control who they hire.
If you’re not a hiring manager, this may be true. You can, however, make a point of referring highly skilled highly capable candidates for open positions. You can also make a point of networking outside of your normal circle of influence to meet a different group of people who, while highly skilled, may also align with the company’s diversity goals and objectives.
3. Don’t be afraid to expand your circle.
Once we become more self-aware of our worldview, sometimes it’s easier to meet and interact with new people from cultures that differ from our own, allowing us to expand our circle of influence to include a more diverse group of friends and colleagues.
Common objection. My circle of influence has no bearing on my ability to embrace diversity at work.
The two are linked. In a recent Forbes interview, the CEO interviewed said: “diversity begets diversity.” The reason companies end up with little to no diversity is because people typically rely on their network, which is usually homogeneous. When we expand our circle of influence, we allow ourselves to exercise our muscles for understanding, compassion, and empathy for another person and we extend our networking potential for our business, team, or company.
4. Treat people how they want to be treated.
The traditional advice is to treat people the way you would like to be treated. But with a deeper understanding of individual points of view, the way you may want to be treated may not be the way someone else wants to be treated. By taking the time to get to know different people and to understand them, you can figure out how they want to be treated and act accordingly.
Common objection. This is a bunch of politically correct bologna. The bible says to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Why change the bible to make people comfortable?
This is no different than it’s always been. You want people to treat you a certain way. You don’t want to be forced to eat food, listen to music, or practice a religion you don’t like. You want the ability to be yourself. Whether you want to admit it or not, someone must get to know you well enough to learn those preferences and then respect you enough to honor them. That’s what it means to treat people how they want to be treated. It’s not politically correct; it’s just respectful and honorable.
5. Invite different ideas.
Be open to different ideas from your team or your employees. Encourage your team to be spontaneous with their ideas—and not play it safe. Innovation happens when individuals feel safe enough to express their ideas without fear of rejection or criticism. If you can create that environment, this is the first step toward high-performance and innovation.
Common objection. Brainstorming must have some order, or we won’t get anywhere.
The ability to integrate different points of view is what enhances individual creativity. A Forbes article cited several studies from INSEAD to Singapore Management University, and it found that
“Research on creativity and innovation has been consistent in showing the value of exposing individuals to experiences with multiple perspectives and worldviews. It is the combination of these various perspectives in novel ways that result in new ideas “popping up.” Creative “aha” moments do not happen by themselves. Management has to design their companies for serendipity.”
Diversity and Inclusion is a team sport, and everyone has a role to play. Luckily, there are many roles. Where will you start?