I get a lot of questions from my clients about what are some practical things they can do promote diversity and inclusion in their organizations. We often focus on policies and procedures but there is an additional element that profoundly affects our workplace environment, our own behavior.
Think about the power you have to make your organization a welcoming and safe place. You set the agenda and the tone that guides your entire organization just by setting an example. Some points to consider include:
1. Treat everyone equally without consideration for age, race, culture, physical ability, appearance, education or religious background and without setting them up for failure or ridicule.
2. Have non-punitive policies in place to deal with conflicts that arise from people having different points of view and backgrounds.
3. Establish and ongoing, open and respectful dialogue on diversity.
4. Create a workplace that is a forum for people to share opinions without attacks, retribution or denigration.
5. Practice a zero tolerance policy for any behavior that belittles people.
6. Design a workplace that rewards people who work well with others.
7. Discourage cliques or other exclusive groups.
8. Build a workplace where people speak to each other respectfully and listen to other points of view.
9. Provide ongoing training opportunities focusing on diversity and inclusion from the top down, everyone required to attend.
10. Include diversity and inclusion in the values statement or mission of the company and, more importantly, practice behaviors that reflect your commitment to diversity.
These ten items are the building blocks of diversity and inclusion. They are not difficult in and of themselves if you value them in your organization and practice them on a daily basis. When leaders commit to following these principles they show their workforce that diversity is a high priority at the company, not a painful and sporadic activity they have to suffer through.
These ideas can be implemented without creating chaos in your workplace. They simply require buy-in from leadership and ongoing training and support to build in accountability. Think about yourself for a moment and how many of these points you practice daily. To create a genuinely diverse workplace you and your employees will behave this way most of the time and it will eventually become your company culture.
What will you do to promote diversity in your workplace?