An organization of similar-minded people will have the same vulnerabilities while differing perspectives in the workplace lead to increased creativity, faster problem-solving, and higher innovation. If you want to help encourage a more respectful workplace culture, albeit the differences, these tips work:
The best way to ascertain the amount of discrimination present in your workplace is through data gathering. Ask employees about how respectful their colleagues are and how supportive the environment is. Don’t hesitate to ask about the challenges they experience concerning social, cultural, and language barriers. Find out about any underlying intolerance from peers and seniors to grasp an honest and clear picture of where your organization is at.
When encouraging diversity and inclusion, the areas of concern are usually around the following:
- Family status
- Gender identity or expression
- Physical characteristics
- Personality type
- Religion, belief, and spirituality
- Organization function and level
- Thinking/learning styles
- Sexual orientation
Acknowledge that diversity is a strength for the organization
The workplace is more than a room full of individuals raised with varying principles and beliefs. Make sure you establish a common ground and a certain level of decorum through your organization’s culture. As per The Lakota Language Consortium, communicating consistently that understanding and acceptance are essential in helping others flourish is crucial. Despite the race, gender, age, disability, and other factors, everyone has something unique to contribute to the table and focusing on similarities instead of differences is healthy for everyone.
If the LGBT community in your workplace feels the need for better acceptance, your organization can show support through well-meaning and elaborately designed pride shirts. If your culture needs a tremendous amount of work, training the leaders first is the best way forward. Training resources such as Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 are helpful. They support learners in understanding that individuals of differing strengths and weaknesses can work harmoniously to achieve unfathomable results.
Foster diverse thinking
Many stellar ideas have remained unspoken because of the fear of reprimand, criticism, and embarrassment. Even if great ideas are spoken about, a culture that doesn’t welcome them can be the downfall of a company. In 2013, the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh was widely televised. 1,132 people were killed, and more were injured in this five-factory building. A day before the eight-story commercial plaza’s collapse, people from the lower ground reported cracks in the building. Owners didn’t welcome their observation and continued their operations as usual. The building collapsed the next morning, giving way to the deadliest structural failure in modern history. This is the worst that has happened but on a good day, losses are the consequence of unheard-of ideas due to bias and discrimination.
The flip side of a diverse and inclusive workplace is an environment where the minority feels unwelcome at best and fearful at worst. Creating a culture that supports differences require constant communication across all levels. When done successfully, fear will be replaced by feelings of inclusivity and support.
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