Inertia is the tendency for things to remain unchanged or for matter to continue in its existing state of rest unless that state is altered by an external force.
You are that force.
Historically, there has been incredible inertia around creating diversity and inclusion in the workplace across every industry. The time for change is now.
We are entering a more compassionate, open-minded and equitable world, borne out of a storm of tragedies spotlighted during the pandemic. As a leader, it is your role to create policies and practices that foster cultural diversity in the workplace for your employees and customers.
In addition to the practical tips below, let my executive leadership coaching program be your guide. The work you will need to do to change your company’s culture may be challenging, but the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are deep, powerful and incredibly impactful.
The Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
While some companies have never addressed cultural diversity in the workplace, most companies have recently begun increasing their focus in this area. No matter which category your company falls into, the benefits of workplace diversity are well worth your time and effort. Studies show that diversity can increase creativity and innovation, improve decision-making and lead to stronger financial performance.
Is your business as diverse as the world is?
If your company doesn’t reflect the same faces your customers see in the world, it may be time to incorporate diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Each unique trait your employees possess needs to be met with understanding and acceptance. By valuing differences – such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation – you will create an inclusive workplace that your employees will feel honored to be part of. And by strategically creating opportunities for each person’s specific experience, education, knowledge, skill set and personality, you are setting your employees and your company up for success.
If you aren’t already cultivating cultural diversity in the workplace, you need to begin now. In addition to working with an executive business coach, the following strategies for managing diversity in the workplace are a great way to start.
How Can You Foster Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?
As I mentioned earlier, YOU are the powerful force that will disrupt the inertia of history. As a leader, the ability to effect change rests solely on your shoulders. When you lead by example and build policies that ensure diversity and inclusion at the workplace, your employees will follow.
It’s the right thing to do.
Working with executive coaching services to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is good for your business, and more importantly, it is what is needed in the world, especially right now.
Mix Up Your Team
If you want to create diversity in the workplace, start by taking a close look at your team. If you have teams that look and think the same exact way, you’re going to achieve the same exact results.
While that may have worked in the past, our world is currently moving at the speed of light. If you don’t build opportunities for creativity and innovation through diversity, your business will be left in the dark.
Evolve or become extinct.
By creating a more diverse team, new approaches to old problems will emerge. If a team is homogenous, bring in someone with a different background, age, culture or gender for a fresh perspective.
Make it Easy for Everyone to Participate
It’s easy to see things from your own viewpoint. After all, it’s what you’ve always known.
Truly effective leaders step back and consider how others might experience situations. This allows them to recognize that some employees may not speak up or feel left out because they look and feel different than the rest of their team. Make sure you foster a safe space that allows everyone to feel comfortable participating in meetings or discussions.
The simplest approach is to ask employees who tend to keep their ideas to themselves, “What can I do to provide an environment that allows you to express yourself?”
The journey from that question to an effective solution might be uncomfortable but will allow for creativity and brainstorming that goes beyond anything you’ve previously experienced.
Encourage Unconscious Bias Training
Diving into unconscious biases is another area that is challenging for many people but is crucial to developing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Unconscious bias is the root of many diversity and inclusion issues. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and begin the healing process with cultural humility training, which will help your team be aware of their biases (even if they don’t believe they have any) and cultivate empathy and inclusion for all.
The process won’t be quick and it won’t be painless, but it will work.
None of us are experts, but when we commit to learning how to respect and embrace other people’s experiences and realities, we make critical breakthroughs and enable collaboration.
Be an Active Ally
It sounds obvious but in order to break inertia, you must be active. As the leader, it is your role to visibly align yourself with employees from underrepresented groups. Not only are you showing those employees you value them, but you are also creating a workplace that doesn’t accept inequitable or intolerant practices.
If you are not from a minority group, you can use your privilege and position of power to be an active ally for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Use your power to amplify voices that have historically gone unheard.
Start by discovering, accepting and changing your own biases. When you put in the work, your employees will too. Every single time you see someone being unfairly treated or left out, speak up and shut it down. When you model inclusive behavior, your teams will realize that they need to do so as well.
When I say celebrate, I mean CELEBRATE! As in, party.
Make your team feel special by hosting cultural potlucks, by recognizing holidays that are important to them in your company’s communications or on social media, and by fostering an environment that encourages employees to share their differences.
Create employee work groups focused on discovering ways to highlight differences and document this in your policies. This will show your employees that you not only recognize what makes each of them unique, but you also celebrate it.
Support Employee Resource Groups
When employees have access to information and resources, they feel empowered. By encouraging employee resource groups, you are giving employees with similar backgrounds or interests the opportunity to connect with each other. These groups can also raise awareness about diversity and inclusion challenges within your workplace, the industry and the world.
By supporting employees through resource groups based on their specific interests and backgrounds, you are showing that you are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Improve Company Culture with Executive Coaching Services
Accept that you don’t have all the answers and that, through no fault of your own, your employees may not feel comfortable sharing personal (and oftentimes, traumatic) experiences with you. No matter how brilliant and supportive you may be as a leader, your employees may not truly see the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace if you don’t bring in an expert.
You cannot do it alone. You need to continue to focus your time and energy on leading your company to success, while still implementing diversity management strategies, which is why working with an expert is critical.
Hiring an executive coach will help you understand the complexities of how cultural differences at work impact your employees and business. An executive business coach will optimize the benefits of workplace diversity, elevate your leadership style and help you deal with conflict.
Leadership Coaching is an Innovative Way to Build Workplace Diversity
Wishful thinking alone can’t overcome inertia. It requires action supported by evidence-based strategies. When you hire a leadership coach who knows what works and what doesn’t, you are ensuring success for yourself, your employees and your business.
- Leadership executive coaching offers an innovative, inspiring and efficient way to create diverse teams and maximize their professional potential.
- Through the process, you will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented employees. You will understand how trust, inclusion and job satisfaction can affect their emotional, physical and mental health over time.
- You will learn it’s not enough to just say your workplace is diverse. You need to actively recruit, retain and promote employees from underrepresented groups.
- You will become aware of biases your employees face, particularly those who have not received the same opportunities as their co-workers. Recognizing and resolving these biases will ultimately create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.
There is no downside to focusing on the strategies for managing diversity in the workplace.
I guarantee it: the return on your investment will be astronomical.
Embark on a Journey To a Diverse and Inclusive Future
I’ve given you the map, now it’s up to you to gas up, grab some snacks and hit the road. Even if you get lost along the way, the destination is worth it.
If you’re ready to implement diversity management strategies, hire the best executive coach as your co-pilot to help stay the course. Bon voyage!