Sep 18

Diversity and Inclusion: Steps to Start Improving Today (Series 3 of 8)

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Diversity and Inclusion – Steps to Start Improving Today

The pandemic has done a lot of damage, but if any good has come of it, perhaps it’s that it has exposed many ignored issues that business leaders tend to avoid or ignore in the workplace.

Combined with the worldwide reaction to the death of George Floyd, it’s clear Diversity and Inclusion are significantly important to personal, professional and business success.

The First Step Is to Care

Some people feel that these issues do not affect them. This is likely the reason so many suffer silently in an unfriendly work environment.

If you’re not addressing diversity and inclusion within your company culture, the problems will fester and surface eventually.

Next, Educate Yourself

Identify and learn what systemic racism is. Then, ask yourself and your leaders how you may have been unknowingly contributing to it. Perhaps it goes back to childhood, how someone was raised, their social upbringing, or who they went to school with.

When you educate yourself, then you can develop a plan and put together a team. Gayle Brock likes to call them “Champions”.

Link Arms with Others

Recognize different types of people that you are most unfamiliar with and conduct some outreach. For example, you may think to yourself, “I don’t know much about the Latino culture”, so jump in, join the Latino Chamber of Commerce.

Find people who are working towards bringing awareness to the Latino community, in this example, get connected with those groups and individuals actively promoting Latino culture.

From grassroots agencies and cafes to City government such as joining the Human Relations Committee on your City Council, there are opportunities everywhere to broaden your perspective.

In this way, you will rub elbows with different people and naturally educate yourself by interacting with people outside your routine social circles.

Overcome Fear

One of the biggest challenges and barriers for leaders and other individuals who have become aware and chosen to care is always going to be fear.

Someone may want to take action but a list of social insecurities arises, “what will I look like? What will my colleagues think of me? I’m trying to advance in this company but if I don’t see my CEO doing anything, in fact, I even heard my manager or boss say certain things or derogatory terms, and everyone snickers and laughs… why mess up my chances of advancement? I will no longer be in line for advancement or will no longer be ‘one of them’.”

These fears are forces to be reckoned with, and we must set a plan and lead by example to quell the fear of retaliation for those who do speak out. To eliminate the fear of being ostracized within your company culture.

Create a Plan

We’ve already discussed the value and ROI of implementing a diversity and inclusion plan, from the thousands of dollars in lost revenue to recruiting, training, and turnover to the limited business partners, vendors, and talent pool.

Given all of this value, why wouldn’t you treat your diversity plan the same as a 3-5 year strategy?

Ask yourself and your leadership teams:

What is needed to make a fun and inclusive environment so everyone feels welcome?

What is needed to make a work environment that is knowledgeable about diversity?

What is needed to make someone feel welcome to stay awhile? When you invite someone to your house (pre-Covid of course) you do certain things to prepare your home to help guests feel comfortable and welcome to stay awhile. It’s the same thing with your business.

What can we do to create an environment or staff so our visitors and clients feel welcome to stay awhile?

What can we do to give our staff a voice so that they are respected and feel valued?

Once you have a sustainable diversity plan in place, you need to ensure it is upheld in high regard through the years.

Gayle Brock advises “diversity and inclusion should be incorporated very seriously as part of the company’s core values… just as you have performance reviews — diversity and inclusion notation should also be a part of every staff person from CEO down in their performance appraisals so that they are evaluated as to what was accomplished in certain areas.”

This has to be continually infused in the business’s culture and organizational DNA. The way to do that is by involving everyone in your company in the creative idea of the work. Also, helping everyone to realize it’s not just your boss but everyone is involved in creating a positive work environment where we are aware of each other’s differences.

This work on diversity and inclusion is not just the CEO, staff, and managers but perpetually extends into how we treat our partners, stakeholders, clients, and customers.

Series 3 of 8