How to build a diverse workplace07 Feb 2022
As a leader, I like to think of my team as a puzzle. We all fit together just right to create something far bigger and more impressive than ourselves, but no two of us are exactly alike. In fact, some of us are so dissimilar that you may not even expect us to belong to the same puzzle — until, of course, you step back and see the image we create when working in harmony.
That’s our job as leaders and decision-makers: to step back and see people as more than their differences. It’s also the key to building an organically diverse workplace — not one that uses inclusion as a gimmick.
The most important reason to build a diverse workforce is obvious: Our world is diverse, so our workplaces should be too.
However, there are plenty of other benefits of diversification. Here are just a few:
- Include more voices: If your team is made up of overly similar people, you may end up with overly similar ideas. Include more voices, however, and you could have access to creative new approaches.
- Serve different clients: Sometimes, we as leaders only have experience serving those with similar backgrounds. A diverse workplace reduces this risk by introducing employees who may know more about certain groups of people and, thus, provide better service.
- Simplify conflict resolution: According to Indeed, a diverse workplace also comes with a certain benefit to conflict management. That’s because managing conflict can be easier when different perspectives are equally and fairly represented, and when everyone is comfortable communicating their unique perspectives.
- Earn more revenue: A study by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with “above-average diversity on their management teams” also reported earning 19% more revenue than low-diversity competitors.
How to prioritise diversity and inclusion
Here are a few of my favourite tips for making your team into that ideal puzzle:
- Understand what diversity means.
Diversity as a concept is nuanced and powerful, and it’s important to understand what you really mean when you apply this word to your workplace culture.
Take, for example, the hiring process. In this case, diversity isn’t about hiring people just because they’re different from you. It’s about hiring the right people — and sometimes, a person is right for the job because they bring a different perspective, background or voice to the conversation.
- Practise overcoming unconscious bias.
You may like to think you’re completely free of unconscious biases, but you’d be wrong. The unfortunate truth is that we’re all biased in some way, even if we don’t mean to be — which is why unconscious bias training is essential for identifying, understanding and overcoming the hurdles that may keep you from creating a workplace that truly supports social productivity and innovation.
- Learn where you’re wrong.
A diversity training program is an excellent way to build your own awareness around social and personal bias and brush up on vital skills. It helps you avoid bias in the hiring process, develop and encourage an inclusive mindset, understand legislation surrounding diversity and make these lessons part of your everyday life.
Start diversifying your teams
Once you’ve set goals to increase diversity in your teams or make current employees feel more included, where do you begin? Remember, diversity isn’t a fad or trend — so take your time, do your research and make sure inclusiveness is built into your organisation’s DNA. That way, your team can work as puzzle pieces in complete harmony to create that impressive final image.
Also remember that, even though you’re a leader and decision-maker, you don’t have to go on this journey alone. ICML training programs can help you make more confident decisions about diversity — so reach out today.