“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” — Malcolm Forbes
You’ve heard it before: two heads are better than one. But what if both heads come from the same place, have the same background and think similarly? When leaders face complex issues, they need diverse talent with different ways of thinking through a problem.
Market leaders and innovators such as Microsoft, Cisco and Google recognise that each individual contributes unique ideas, perspectives, and interests that enable them to maintain a dynamic environment, encourage creativity, and deliver higher quality results for their clients.
So how can an organisation and its leaders contribute to a diverse and inclusive work environment? First, let’s explore the definition of diversity and inclusion.
Whilst diversity is generally thought of as the difference in gender or ethnic background; it actually encompasses a much broader spectrum of variables. Workplace diversity should be defined as the full range of ways in which people differ from one another including race, gender, ethnicity, geographic origin, lifestyle, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical/personal traits, skill set, functional and educational backgrounds.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is the act of harnessing these differences to solve problems and create a collaborative work environment where diverse skill sets are valued and individuals have the mentoring and professional development opportunities to learn and contribute to the organisation’s success.
Organisations that effectively introduce the concept of diversity and inclusion as part of their culture employ a number of strategies:
- They develop and implement recruiting strategies that promote the identification and selection of diverse candidates.
- They establish forums aimed at creating a safe space for employees to provide feedback. Some organisations implement diversity and inclusion councils, participate in anonymous surveys or actively publish social responsibility reports.
- They regularly use a cross-section of employees to staff projects, form committees or manage initiatives.
- They design the organisation’s guiding principles in such a way to communicate the intention of and promote diversity through collaboration.
- They hold social events regularly and invite speakers who are experts in the subject.
- And most importantly, they take action.
It’s not enough to simply write policies or talk about diversity and inclusion; the mind set and actions of the organisation’s leaders have to genuinely reflect the principles of an inclusive environment in their decision-making and daily interactions with employees. Leaders should actively participate in events, engage employees, respect differences, solicit formal and informal feedback and seek to capture different points of views when working on a project or through a problem. Doing so will greatly improve retention of top talent, morale, productivity and many cases, relationships with clients.
Bottom line, an organisation who uses their talent’s differences to their advantage, will always have the upper hand over competitors who don’t.
Is diversity and inclusion promoted at your organisation? Are there other strategies your organisation employs to promote an inclusive culture? Join the conversation in the comments section below and contact us to ask how Castlegate International can help leaders achieve an inclusive environment.