An inclusive environment is beneficial to your business, but it doesn’t happen by accident.
Diversity isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a quality to be prized, sought after and protected. Diversity is an asset to your business. It provides you with a greater multitude of perspectives to draw from. A wider range of experiences almost always yields a greater range of strengths among your team members.
Diversity doesn’t necessarily happen by accident, however. Smart leaders actively promote it, and create a culture of tolerance and inclusion. Below are some practical tips on doing exactly that.
Lead by example. This one almost goes without saying, but if you engage in behavior that belittles or demeans people of a certain race, ethnic background or gender, you empower the rest of your team members to do the same. Always be certain that your own personal interactions with people are respectful.
Practice nonpunitive conflict resolution. Diverse backgrounds and perspectives may mean that there is misunderstanding or miscommunication from time to time. Make sure you have a way to deal with this that doesn’t punish anyone, or cast anyone’s background as somehow problematic or unworthy.
Put avenues in place to gather ideas and suggestions. Make everyone feel like their voice is heard. Actively seek suggestions or proposals from all members of your team, and have a workplace environment where ideas are never ridiculed or rejected out of hand. This does not mean you have to accept every idea that’s presented to you; just seriously consider them.
Have a zero-tolerance policy in place. Behavior that belittles others should not be tolerated, plain and simple. Make this clear in a specific, written, formal policy. Review this policy with all new employees.
Encourage collaboration. Assign projects not to individuals, but to teams. Make sure the teams are varied, too. Promote a workflow where everyone works with everyone, and nobody forms a clique or works in seclusion.
Bring unity through vision. While there may be various things that make your team members different, there are also things that should bring unity — such as the company’s vision and values. Make sure everyone knows what the company is trying to achieve, and how their role plays into that big picture.
Factor diversity into your mission statement. Speaking of vision and values, you might incorporate diversity and inclusion into your written mission statement, making it clear to your team members and your customers that tolerance is primary to your business.
Provide ongoing training. Team training can be a powerful way to promote diversity and tolerance. Invest in different ways for your team members to learn from another, and alongside each other.
Again, diversity is a good thing, but not something that just happens. To have a team where tolerance and inclusion are prized, you’ll have to put in some work. The tips offered here should provide some useful ways to be intentional as you court diversity and help you build a team that finds strength through its differences.
About the Author
Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.