Diversity in the workplace is no longer simply encouraged—it's mandatory. This includes, but is not limited to: “race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.” This is, of course, a great thing! There are so many benefits to workplace diversity—success rates, adaptability potential, and broader service ranges, just to name a few, have all been proven to go up significantly when diversity exists within an office—big or small, marketing, finance, or anything in-between. And while this is all well and good (and, as we said, necessary!) there's more to a diverse office space than just diversity. The notion of inclusion plays a large role in the success of a business, and it’s important that this concept stops getting over-looked. So, here are 3 tips to keeping your workplace diverse, inclusive, and ultimately, wildly successful.
- Overcoming Unconscious Biases
Unconscious biases in the workplace, and in the professional world at large, exist. Overcome them. We must reiterate that this is predominantly unconscious. We are not actively training ourselves and our coworkers to act negatively towards certain groups or types of people. But what we do do is make excuses for why Human Type A wouldn’t fit the mold as well as Human Type B. It’s worth considering, especially in today’s world, that there is someone who overlaps within those categories (A little of Human Type A and Human Type B) and that they could be incredibly useful for your business. Upcoming employees of today tend to have talents that cast a much wider net than the prototypes society has typically placed them in over time.
We have a culturally instilled sense of what makes sense for our lives, and more specifically in this case, our business, versus what doesn't. Going into the hiring process, for example, or simple day-to-day professional world endeavors with a closed mind is perhaps the worst thing you could possibly do for the wellbeing of your company. If you’re starting a business, spend time broadening your potential pool of applicants. Work hard to attract and, once you've gotten people interested, interview a diverse collection of people. Even if not a single interviewee fits your business’ needs, you’ll have learned a great deal from the process.
- Listen to Your Employees
Listen to your employees, and what they think could be changes for the better. We have ideas, each and every one of us. How we implement those ideas, however, is what needs to be the meat of this dialogue. Look to your employees or co-workers for advice, differing viewpoints, and ideas. Asking questions is a beautiful part of the human condition, and, like we said, we all have something to bring to the table. Look at social media, for instance; it’s filled with people who think themselves professionals in any and all given fields! There’s so much content that has the potential to be useful. And yes, it’s true: you may not agree with or think all the feedback you receive is useful... in the moment. But we're willing to bet that even if that's the case, a lot of what's said will come back to assist you in ways you might not have thought possible in the future.
Keep yourself, and your staff accountable. Nothing will wreck your fantastic efforts for change in the form of diversity and inclusion as quickly as failing to hold your employees, and/or yourself, accountable (as we well know, this goes for most things in life!) Creating an inclusive environment within the workplace takes great patience, hard work, and a whole lot of communication. Have someone set the tone for the task at large—how are we going to go about this? E.g. ‘How are we going to communicate regarding the work we’re putting in, versus what we’re getting out?’ But be sure that everyone is involved in the process. If even just peripherally—that might be enough.
Encourage that everyone’s voice be heard. After all, isn’t this exactly what we mean when we talk about the spirit of inclusion? Bringing the conversation out from behind its shroud will make people feel like the whole thing is a worthwhile effort—and indeed, you will see magnificent results.
The Burton Blatt Institute defines a culture of inclusion as a commitment to workplace diversity. However "it is not limited simply to basic representation… Instead, it indicates a climate in which respect, equity, and positive recognition of differences are all cultivated.” Recognize the issue, invent change, and see positive results. It can be that simple. And trust us: you, your employees, and your customers will thank you for it.
Can-Do Ideas is an Inbound Marketing agency specializing in digital. We are located in New York City and Connecticut.