Self-Awareness Workshops

10 Tips to Promote Workplace Diversity

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 with respect regardless of their 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?

Take care,


What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment below. Visit my home page for more articles to help you increase your self-awareness.

6 thoughts on “10 Tips to Promote Workplace Diversity

  1. Henry

    The comments are so theoretical that it merely provides any means to help promote workplace diversity.

    An example is, we all know we have to respect our colleagues. That is easier said than done. The problem today isn’t because colleagues disrespect each other, it’s their cultural habits that leads to disrespect among peers. So the question is how do we achieve that?

    Merely telling someone to be respectful doesn’t help solve today’s problem.

    1. Self-Awareness Post author

      Thanks for your comment Henry. Perhaps a good starting point would be to take any of the tips in the article and develop a single action related to it. For example: If you want to create respectful dialogue you deliberately and consciously teach employees how to communicate respectfully and make it an ongoing part of the company culture. I’ve found it helpful to do one concrete thing differently for a while, then move on to the next step. Take care, Guy.

  2. Eliza Cranston

    Thank you for the workplace diversity tips! I love the idea of encouraging respectful discussion of differing opinions, but sometimes that can be hard to regulate because people tend to get emotional and turn discussions into arguments. Do you have any tips on how to keep things respectful and unemotional?

    1. Self-Awareness Post author

      Thank you for your question, Eliza. I’ve found it helpful to create an atmosphere, where people can share whatever they want, by allowing each participant to speak their minds while setting parameters that limit people’s inclination to interrupt, rebut, or become defensive. You might find my How to Communicate Effectively post helpful.

  3. savoir faire

    “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.”

    This sounds nice but a policy that strives for “neutrality” or “color-blindness” can mask ongoing inequities.

    Suppose your building has no wheelchair ramps or push-button doors: you can’t just tell the employee in a wheelchair “we treat everyone equally without consideration for physical disability” (or even worse “I don’t see you as disabled, I just see you as a person!”) If you do, you’re not being inclusive, you’re perpetuating exclusion.

    The same principle can be applied to other identities. You have to be able to consider all the ways that dominant identities are advantaged and non-dominant identities are disadvantaged in visible and invisible ways, which means that you have to ask the questions and you have to know *who* to ask to get the answers.

    1. Self-Awareness Post author

      Thanks for your insights, Savoir Faire. I’ve edited the item to better reflect my intent. I agree that words like “equally” are often used to sustain the power, values, or needs of the dominant group at the exclusion of others. Cheers, Guy.

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