Easy Diversity Training

One of the comments that comes up when I talk with leaders about diversity training is that they don’t want to dredge up the past, bring up difficult subjects or rock the boat. Diversity training sometimes gets a bad rap for stirring up conflict but there are some practical things you can do to make it much easier:

Focus on Things People Have in Common

So much diversity training has to do with highlighting the differences between people that everyone forgets how much they have in common. Create a positive diversity training program where people get to share their stories and learn about each other in a safe environment. Emphasize commonalities so people can build bridges instead of walls.

Help People Acquire Skills to Get Along with Each Other

Teach your staff how to listen actively, communicate effectively, increase self-awareness, lead inspirationally, resolve conflicts, and build cohesive teams. Teaching your leaders and employees these core skills will help them get along with others and bring people together.

Make Diversity Part of Your Company Culture

When you make it clear that your organization values diversity, from the top down, then your employees will start moving in that direction as well. A one-time diversity workshop has very little effect. Plan on offering ongoing training that continues to help people understand and value diversity.

Focus on these areas and you’ll find that diversity becomes less of a charged issue. Diversity training doesn’t have to be difficult, you can make it easier by creating an ongoing, positive program that helps people get along with and value each other. What will you do to support diversity training in your workplace?

Take care,


How to Stop Ignoring Diversity

Many leaders try to ignore workplace diversity because they think it means losing power or giving up control to unfamiliar people. What often gets overlooked is that diversity means being able to use the various talents and abilities of your employees and celebrating their ideas and perspectives. Here are some ideas to help you stop ignoring diversity:

  • People may seem different but we all care about our children and want to build a satisfying career.
  • Practice self-awareness by understanding that other people may not have the motives you attribute to them.
  • Different ideas and perspectives add to the knowledge pool in your organization and give you more options.
  • Other people may know things you don’t and help you become wiser.
  • One person can only handle so much. Challenges become less daunting when you have many people with many different brains and talents backing you up.
  • In general, people aren’t out to get you or take your job, so its OK to see them as allies.
  • You seem different to others but they’re willing to work with you.
  • Diversity isn’t threatening unless you decide it is.
  • Listen to people and enjoy learning about them and how they would like to help your organization succeed.

It’s easy to think that diversity is some annoyance that forces you to do things you don’t want to do but it’s a useful tool in any workplace. Every organization is made up of a huge variety of people and leadership decides whether it takes advantage of the available brainpower or keeps people in boxes. Proactive leaders understand that a wide range of perspectives and ideas can build a stronger, more nimble organization. What will you do to celebrate diversity in your workplace?

Take care,


25 Examples of Diversity in the Workplace

We literally live and breathe in a diverse world but we sometimes forget to take a moment and reflect on how many opportunities and possibilities it offers us.  Perhaps you’ve met leaders who create cliques or design hierarchical work environments where there is a privileged group.  The remarkable thing is that it requires conscious thought and action to create this type of workplace. Leaders have to deliberately select the qualities they prefer and put the systems in place to make it happen.  They could just as easily build workplaces based on an entirely different set of characteristics.

Here are twenty examples of diversity in the workplace, each one can be used as a way to bring people together.

  1. Age.
  2. Gender.
  3. Race and ethnicity.
  4. Education.
  5. Physical appearance.
  6. Physical ability.
  7. Culture.
  8. Problem-solving ability.
  9. Critical thinking ability.
  10. Team building ability.
  11. Communication ability.
  12. Income.
  13. Music enjoyed.
  14. Type of books read.
  15. TV shows enjoyed.
  16. Experiences when being raised.
  17. Language.
  18. Capability for empathy.
  19. Abiltity to be kind.
  20. Ability to motivate people.
  21. Ability to work with others.
  22. Job description.
  23. Listening ability.
  24. Conflict resolution ability.
  25. Level of self-awareness.

People are only as different as we make them out to be.  We choose which characteristics we want to highlight, mostly based on what we’re comfortable with.  If we wanted to, we could begin celebrating every quality our employees possess and increase our access to their amazing talents and abilities immediately.  Ideally, we use people’s unique characteristics to make our workplace stronger rather than creating divisions.  What types of diversity do you celebrate in your workplace?

Take care,


Diversity Is a Tool for Success

Diversity isn’t as scary, controversial or apathy-generating as some people make it out to be.  It’s actually a valuable tool that can be used by any savvy leader to build strong, cohesive and productive organizations.

I’ve noticed for quite some time that diversity training is viewed suspiciously by many leaders.  Perhaps this is because people have been subjected to diversity training that makes them feel badly about who they are and makes them think that something they’re doing is wrong.

I take a different approach to diversity that views it is a tool to help us succeed.  Diversity training can actually help us connect with others, create stronger teams and build companies where people work together toward a common goal.  There’s no emphasis on taking away people’s identities or making anyone more important than someone else.  We just focus on using each person’s amazing talents and abilities.

Think about diversity training as the opportunity to identify what each of your employees does well and then encourage them to do it.  You also benefit from many different and valuable ideas and perspectives that could easily be overlooked.  Imagine the power of having bright new minds available to solve problems or develop new processes or products.

Diversity gives us greater access to the resources and brain power our employees have to offer.  There’s no mystery to it.  Just as you possess certain abilities so do other people.  Bring all those abilities together and you’ve got the foundation for building a great organization.  You might also enjoy the benefits that come from employees that get along and support each other.  What would your workplace look like if you harnessed the power of diversity?

Take care,


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 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?

Take care,


When Diversity Isn’t an Issue

Workplace diversity is as positive or negative an issue as any leader or organization makes it.  Diversity can be a powerful tool to bring people together and use the talents and knowledge of your employees or it can generate fear and mistrust.

I tend to focus on workplace behaviors that produce positive results and create productive work environments.  Let’s look at what might happen in a workplace if diversity is a negative.

  • Employees view each other as different.
  • People don’t trust each other.
  • Some people are treated differently than others.
  • New ideas may not be welcome.
  • Leadership does not reflect the workforce.
  • Differences are viewed as negative.
  • Individuality is discouraged.
  • Diversity isn’t discussed.
  • Differences are viewed as a threat.
  • Resistance to change.
  • There are exclusionary groups or cliques.

What might happen if you view diversity as a positive factor?

  • Differences are valued.
  • Less conflict because people value each other.
  • People learn about each other.
  • More trust.
  • Fewer divisions between people.
  • Leadership is diverse.
  • Greater collaboration.
  • Diversity is not an issue.

It takes so much effort to resist diversity because people just can’t be jammed into one mold.  Even organizations that consider themselves homogeneous will find a wide range of thoughts, behaviors and abilities in their workforce, they just don’t call it diversity.  By ignoring or minimizing the value of diversity they actually make it a bigger issue than it is.

When diversity isn’t an issue you free yourself up to focus on creating an even stronger workplace.  Leaders have the ability to create diverse, thriving workplaces where there is a lively exchange of ideas and perspectives and people of every description are celebrated.  What will you do to make diversity a non-issue in your workplace?

Take care,


Diversity Training: 10 Benefits of Workplace Diversity

Walk into any workplace and you’ll get a pretty good sense whether their leadership values diversity.  Better yet, visit the executive suite and see whether their leadership reflects their workforce.  I’ve talked with leaders who get bent out of shape about diversity training because they think it’s about redistributing power or opening up wounds.  I like to think of it as a way of building a stronger organization.  Here are ten benefits of workplace diversity.

  1. Employees get along better.
  2. People trust employees outside their own group.
  3. Everyone is welcome and respected.
  4. All ideas and perspectives are welcome.
  5. People’s talents are recognized.
  6. The company culture encourages positive interaction.
  7. Cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives.
  8. Leadership and employees aren’t separate.
  9. No cliques or privileged groups.
  10. Celebration of all people.

Think of what your workplace would be like if you enjoyed all ten of these benefits.  Resourceful leaders understand that having their people get along and support each other creates a much more effective organization than one filled with mistrust and strife.  How will you start enjoying the benefits of diversity in your workplace?

Take care,