I often share the benefits of Diversity & Inclusion in an effort to help individuals and organizations to develop a more productive and harmonious workplace. I clearly recognize that there are challenges with integrating diversity in the workplace, which is why I counsel, train and teach others on how to build effective Diversity & Inclusion strategies and to ultimately achieve Culturational Chemistry.

The world that we live in is growing more and more diverse everyday.

Learning to embrace and be inclusive of those of different races, cultures, genders, generations, backgrounds and interests is not just the right thing to do but it also the smart thing to do. Diversity is not just something that’s nice to have; it has quickly become a requirement for businesses to thrive.

Building a diverse workforce does come with challenges. Most people are naturally resistant to change and leveraging the benefits of diversity requires openness to change. When you really understand the benefits of diversity, you will not just be open to change, but you will welcome the change that effective diversity integration can bring.

Before you can get to the benefits of diversity, however, I realize that many of you need help identifying and overcoming the challenges of diversity. The diversity challenges are real and need to be addressed with a genuine desire to resolve and overcome.

The most basic diversity challenges are:

  1. Resistance to change
  2. Stereotypes and Biases
  3. Failure to communicate

Knowing that these challenges exist is really half the battle. The other half is obviously the actions that you take to address them. Lets take a look at each challenge and some recommended approaches.

1. Resistance to change – Embracing diversity will require you to be open to new perspectives, new ideas and new ways of doing things. In order to achieve things you’ve never accomplished before, you’ll have to do things you’ve never done before. View change as opportunities for growth, instead of disregard for tradition.

2. Stereotypes and Biases – The first step to overcoming your biases is acknowledging that you have them. Most of us fall victim to our own “confirmation bias” in our hiring practices, which leads us to hire people that think like us. Recognize and acknowledge your biases and learn to be more discerning in what benefits the overall organizational growth as opposed to just building a team you think fits the “current culture.”

3. Failure to communicate – Talk openly with your team about perceptions and expectations. Encourage your teams to talk openly with one another about those areas as well. Many managers and colleagues make decisions for or about someone else based on an existing stereotype or bias. Stop. Communicate with each other and learn your teammates styles, preferences, strengths and talents. You’ll be surprised how much more productive and enjoyable the workplace will be.

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” ~ Margaret Mead