As we navigate from pandemic to endemic, workplace requirements are profoundly changing. Technological, societal, political, religious and environmental shifts are redesigning how workplaces connect with people, customers and communities. Survival in this phase of increasing disruption is indeed a very fascinating one and challenging but not impossible. Your workplace needs talents that fit the intricacy of the working atmosphere you operate in.
In order to flourish, organisations need to expose the power and potential of their workforce and leaders need learn to adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion as part and parcel of organisation plan. By diversity, I am simply referring to a workforce with unique upbringing, various demographics like age, race, civilization, generation, aptitudes and inabilities, genders, sexual orientations, beliefs, religions, philosophies, cultures as well as their socio-economic and political beliefs. The diversity that we have around us is rich. Just imagine tapping into that abundance and taking advantage of it.
How do you know if your workplace is exploiting diversity at its optimum? What are the telltale signs? We very often hear through the grapevine or read from Employee Satisfaction Surveys that the workforce is not comfortable with voicing their opinion in the presence of Management or that their manager do not involve them in decisions pertaining to their area of “work”or sometimes that their opinions are not heard and always neglected. Sounds familiar?
Have you wondered why despite these sounding so common; we choose not to ignore or not do anything about it? One of my favourite quotes is as Aldous Huxley says
Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.
Sadly, being ignorant is not so much a disgrace, as being reluctant to learn is worse. What must change for us to benefit from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace today?
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A drastic shift of our mindset, skills, structure and culture is key. A Millionaire Mindset is what is needed where you think rich - think big - think now. Leaders need to be more creative in their thinking and reinvent the way they lead diversity and inclusion at the workplace. It must be included as one of the key workplace strategies and part of Key Performance Indicators for progress.
3 Ways To Increase Brand Visibility With Diversity , Equity and Inclusion
Incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in your workplace ethos will enhance brand visibility and corporate social responsibility in a big way. Let’s take the first step by asking yourself these 3 important questions.
First, are workplace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives only sitting with Human Resources and the Executive team? If yes, it’s time to move it to the heart of the organisation and have all levels of the organisation incorporate it into their operational goals. Only by eating, breathing, and sleeping it every day will this become a routine.
Next is to check if your organisation is implementing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion so you can appear on an Award and Accolade list? This is not a show. Leaders must embrace it because they mean it. Do it because you want your people to feel the genuineness in your actions and the essence of respect for what they have to say. Listen because it means the world to you and your organisation and that you are ready to learn from others. Recognition will come. No authentic work goes unnoticed.
Last but not least, you have to ask yourself if your organisation’s culture promotes a “One Size Fits All”? If so, it’s time to start moving into a One Size Fits One when it comes to diversity as there is value in all ideas and experience; no matter how small it may sound. It’s a lot of work; yes, but who says being successful is a fun ride? It takes effort. Individuals have unique needs which is why a mass solution does not work well. As individuals, we have different working preferences, habits and personal demands.
Infographic by Leaderonomics: 3 Ways to Increase Brand Visibility with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
For instance, in learning and development, everyone has different learning requirements, different levels of comprehension, different abilities with language and the same theory applies with working preferences. Some prefer remote work as it enhances their focus and productivity, whilst some thoroughly find themselves being distracted and would prefer to be in the workplace. Some on the other hand, prefer the balance of both worlds.
Having said that, often trying to enforce compulsory ways of working just won’t work in the long-term. However, if this is done with the involvement of your employees in the workplace, they are more likely to feel belonged in the decision and eventually work towards a common approach that fits the majority of the workforce.
Further Reading: Why Should Corporate Malaysia Care About Diversity And Inclusion?
Strategy and Planning for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implementation
Taking on something as big as this as part of the organisation culture, requires a plan. My recommendation is to adopt the B.A.G Learning Model and bag Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at your workplace. B.A.G refers to the cycle of BELIEF. ACTION. GROWTH is a robust tool at the workplace to nurture a learning mindset.
How do you implement this? Leaders need to first have some basic BELIEFS when incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as one of the key strategies in the workplace.
Such a shift in the belief system includes a shift in mindset recognizing that everyone is diverse and unique and all ideas are important ideas. Leaders must learn to value what individual differences can contribute to the workplace, be it language skills, new ways of thinking, new knowledge, and different experiences and respect the differences. This helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups and clusters in the workplace. Finally, genuinely celebrating these distinctions and not just enduring them is the icing on the cake.
When you train your mind to accept such Beliefs, and Learn, Unlearn and Relearn, it will automatically give you a reason to ACT. When you A.C.T, you will see that Action Changes Things. Action takes practice and persistence and sometimes development of habits. Your beliefs will often drive the way you act about an idea. I have always used Tony Buzan’s mind mapping technique to break down and digest information around me as it helps me visualize multi-perspective and angles to a situation and bring them to fruition. Believe it or not, our brains process visual content at an incredibly high speed. In fact, research shows by one estimate, visuals communicate information 60,000 times faster than text.
I enjoy doing this with a focus group that has people who come from diverse cultures and backgrounds, to simply see amazing viewpoints that can make this process not only productive but exciting. Mind Maps gives you a clearer picture about the diverse ideas on hand. Now it’s time to see how to convert these ideas into action.
As you continue to chart the actions on the mind map, you must evaluate the Cost Benefit, Root Cause or even do a SWOT to align them to your workplace vision and philosophies. You will see that all ideas bring value in their own way. Use polls to shortlist the ideas based on what best works for the workplace. Of course, when implementing Action, it is also imperative to maintain parity by ensuring that policies, processes, strategies and programs are balanced, fair and provide equal possible outcomes for the majority of the individuals at the workplace. In this way all levels of employees feel included, where they feel a sense of belonging to the workplace, to some this is where they spend majority of their time and energies. When Actions are identified, you need to monitor its progress in regular intervals to ensure it works. Well established actions will effortlessly lead to GROWTH. None of the components of B.A.G work in isolation.
In short, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion delivers a variety of ideas, viewpoints and guarantees growth. Working together with a mixed group of individuals creates a culture that embraces diversity of thought and helps spot required best practices, growth tools, and resources to maximize people engagement, improvement, workplace performance, and overall satisfaction. Be ready to be disruptive. Non-integration of such an important trend in the workplace can lead to your organization being consigned to obscurity. Incorporate this new trend in the workplace and see the magic happen.
How can we create an inclusive culture in the workplace? Watch the video below to find out! We hope it benefits you.