It is imperative that workplaces start valuing diversity and should never take the difference and uniqueness of their employees for granted.
As inclusive leaders you should be constantly communicating with your diverse team about how much you value their presence and contribution in your organisation. Letting them know you care is key.
Valuing the diversity that your team brings to the organisation helps to develop a sense of belonging. And when employees feel like they belong then you will experience a boost to the overall creativity and innovation among your employees.
It won’t take long, believe me, until you start to notice the flow on effect to the bottom line.
But how do you show to your employees that you are in fact valuing diversity?
In this article, I’m going to cover off on 5 ways. Let’s begin.
#1: Recognise and appreciate diversity
It starts with learning to recognise diversity.
Diversity in the workplace comes in all shapes and sizes and colours. The dimensions of diversity are vast and some are more obvious than others. Yes there are different cultures, skin tone, genders, styles, and preferences that many of us can recognise almost instantly.
But there are also other diverse ways of working that aren’t always so obvious.
Consider the neuro-diverse people who often mask their diversity when they interact others. Or consider introvert versus extrovert personality types and their ways of working and solving problems. And then there are LGBTQ persons who choose not to be overt in their sexual orientation.
We are surrounded by difference and uniqueness every day and yet sometimes we forget that our difference is our superpower.
So, when an employee contributes a unique perspective on a business problem, shows initiative to connect with people or a problem from a different angle, or gives you a new perspective on a work situation, consider expressing your appreciation towards them for bringing their contribution to the table.
As an inclusive leader you can begin to show that you are valuing diversity with a simple ‘thank you’. Expressing appreciation, whether publicly or privately, encourages your employees to be more open and forthcoming with their diverse opinions and initiatives. Your gratitude means a lot to your employees as it gives them a clear indication of what you value, helping promote the right types of behaviour and actions from your employees.
#2: Invest in D&I programs with an ROI focus
When you put your money where your mouth is by investing in diversity and inclusion programs, it sends a clear signal to your employees that you are valuing diversity.
Make sure you invest in programs that have an ROI focus, so you’re letting your employees know that you’re interested in leveraging their difference and translating it into real tangible results.
Your employees will then view your investment in diversity and inclusion as a serious one, since it would be closely tied to your organisation’s financial performance.
Your employees should see that you value diversity from a business context, not just as a casual way to make your employees socialise over cultural nuances.
#3: Design and run inclusion experiments
To show you value diversity, it’s important you’re constantly designing experiments to test your hypothesis around diversity and inclusion.
For example, you might find that two teams in your organisation are constantly in conflict, blaming each other when there’s a client problem.
To address this problem, you could design an experiment to have a compulsory ‘Friday morning coffee’ session which both teams have to attend.
You could set a rule for this catchup that for the first hour in the meeting, people only talk about things that are unrelated to work, like who they are, and what they like doing.
This informal catchup between the two teams could help break the ice, and fix the communication problems between them. It could result in a massive increase in collaboration, minimising conflict and boosting productivity.
If you value diversity, you will constantly design experiments. Experimentation will help you refine your diversity and inclusion strategy, and build it for the long term.
#4: Educate yourself and your leaders
Make the time to educate yourself and the leaders in your organisation about diversity. This involves becoming aware about different cultural traditions, different approaches to work, and getting to know your colleagues on a more personal level.
We are all different and our difference is what makes us strong and unique.
Work to encourage your leaders to move from having a ‘local mindset’ to having a ‘global mindset’. Educate yourself about world events and international politics, be open to travel opportunities, and actively seek out new perspectives from your colleagues.
You’ll then figure out a way to build international friendships, and leverage your diverse employees more effectively, while also finding a common ground with them to connect with them more meaningfully.
#5: Build a workplace culture that values diversity
In all honesty, your entire organisation’s culture should already revolve around diversity and inclusion – and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case.
When it comes to disrupting the way diversity and inclusion solutions are delivered within your organisation, I strongly suggest you start by removing the dimensions of diversity.
I know this is a bold statement given that in this article I’m promoting that we value diversity – but hear me out.
When we remove the dimensions of diversity we allow ourselves to focus on the human interactions that can and should occur despite our difference.
Once we understand how our interactions promote inclusion then we can bring back the diversity dimensions.
It’s the basis of my inclusion program for leaders and it’s the basis of my newest best-selling book. It’s also how I’ve been able to successfully support thousands of leaders across the globe to become more inclusive in their every day.
Are you ready to take the next step towards valuing diversity?
To truly assess whether your company is ready to tackle the challenges of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, consider doing an internal audit that tells you where you stand.
Complete this questionnaire on our website to help us ascertain whether your organisation is ready to disrupt the delivery of inclusion and diversity solutions.