Diversity in the business world is an increasingly serious issue. The major players today – Google, Facebook, Intel and others – are all in the hot seat for this reason as we speak. A lack of diversity in the workplace results in disengaged employees that may not feel represented, and teams that may find innovation to be an out-of-reach ideal, rather than being in touch with real needs and wants.
If you have witnessed this counterproductive combination within your own office, then you are not alone. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Taking healthy risks is one of the few proven and time-tested keys to innovation and success in business, whether you are a small business or an enterprise organization. When you aren’t innovating, you aren’t taking any of the right risks. When your company lacks diversity, you are not allowing your business to be as innovative as it could easily be. And, ultimately, your customers are the ones who pay the price.
What companies are getting wrong about diversity is that it isn’t just a goal. Diversity is a skill. Do you know how to teach it? Here are three steps that you can implement today to create a more diverse culture:
1. Expand Your Idea Of “Diverse.” Relay to your employees that the concept of diversity has changed significantly over time. Today, it’s about far more than race and gender. It’s about mental health, disability awareness and cultural differences. For example, remind people that gender diversity is not only about men and women, but also about the entire LGBT community.
2. Become Aware Of Assumptions. Our assumptions subconsciously influence how we ultimately engage with colleagues, business partners, customers, and ultimately influence whether or not we are creating an inclusive culture. Becoming self-aware of our assumptions helps us feel more confident, and eases our interaction with all people. In the workplace, self-awareness is the first step to bridging differences. In turn, this aides collaboration, problem solving and the conquering of challenges objectively, improving both morale and the bottom line.
3. Know That There Is ROI. In a given day, employees deal with various stakeholders in and around your business. The ability to understand everyone that we deal with – colleagues, customers, partners and vendors – is becoming a core competency. Greater diversity will help your employees improve their dealings and relationships with a wider array of people – a positive for your bottom line.
It’s easy to say that we’ve done a great job when we only work well with people who are exactly like us. However, the truth is that meaningful breakthroughs typically happen in business when we successfully collaborate with those who are very different from us. Ultimately, it’s not only a lack of diversity that hurts our companies, but it’s the lack of proper diversity and inclusion training that stems the sustainability of some initiatives and leaves all levels of staff in the dark. Proper training and diversity and inclusion planning are critical to building a truly connected culture. Fortunately, today, there are a number of businesses that are popping up to fill the need for professional diversity training.
Another issue that is becoming increasingly critical in business is sustainability. According to the United Nations, social inclusion and good corporate governance are two of the keys to achieving a more sustainable future. Making your company more diverse will not only help revitalize your bottom line, but it will also put you on the right path toward solid social responsibility as a business. Fully understanding and harnessing the definitions, assumptions and ROI surrounding diversity is the first step to getting there.