Strategies for Building Diverse & Inclusive Organization
In today’s digital age, we are first-hand witnesses to the rapid globalization that has been occurring in the world around us. Thanks to advancements in technology, we also have the ability to connect instantaneously with one another from anywhere and at any point in time.
As such, this world-wide connectedness has brought together people from all around the globe and contributed to some of the most diverse workforces that organizations have ever had.
Those organizations that embrace diversity openly and quickly learn to adapt to it and effectively manage it are able to reap the benefits of new and exciting perspectives, greater creative problem solving, and greater innovation. However, for many organizations, managing diversity still remains a challenge, as time and time again we hear reports of failed diversity initiatives.
Often times, the root of the issue comes with inconsistency in a sincere commitment to diversity as a cause rather than a quota and even more so to a lack of attention to the importance of inclusion within the workplace when talking about matters of diversity. Furthermore, for some organizations, they just don’t know where to start when it comes to creating and sustaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The following are some tips and strategies to consider when making diversity and inclusion (D & I) a priority within your own organization:
- Establish a Baseline. Make D & I an integral part of your organization’s mission, vision, and core values. This lays the framework from which any successful D & I initiative can build off of.
- Evaluate alignment between espoused versus lived culture and values. If there is a disconnect between what your organization says it values and how it says it will conduct itself, this can cause rifts within the organization that have serious implications for the success of the organization’s D & I initiatives.
- Communicate your cause and model behavior. It’s been said many times: Change starts at the top—and D & I is no exception. Part of creating alignment within the organization also comes with leadership that is committed to change and actively models those behaviors that uphold the organization’s commitment to D & I (e.g., embracing diverse work teams, celebrating differences, sustaining a global mindset).
- Make psychological safety a priority. Psychological safety is a critical component of inclusion. It allows individuals the opportunity to ask questions, to learn, and to express themselves in an environment that is free from judgment. This contributes to the development of a safe work environment, which fuels trust building and breaks down barriers to communication.
- Acknowledge the breadth of diversity as a concept. Diversity in and of itself represents a wide range of unique identities and ideas. This includes such things as: race/ethnicity, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, religion, creed, disability status, and more. As such, organizations should seek to be knowledgeable of and to acknowledge these intersectional identities and ideas in a way that is well-researched, respectful, and mindful of the unique challenges that certain groups of people face.
- Create equitable opportunities. Equality and equity are two very distinct and different things. While equality refers to ensuring everyone has the same rights as everyone else, equity refers to fairness and recognizing gaps in opportunity that may exist for certain individuals or groups of people within your organization. In essence, equity recognizes that not everyone starts the race in the same place but equitable organizations ensure that individuals have just as much a chance at winning the race as everyone else. Part of creating an organization that is both diverse and inclusive recognizes this, as well.
Overall, the above bulleted points are just a few of many ways that organizations can actively make diversity and inclusion a staple priority. Now that we shared some of our tips and strategies, we would love to hear about the amazing work that you are doing within your own organization to manage diversity and promote inclusion!
By Michael Althouse, M.A.
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