The jury is still out on whether the 2020 lockdowns have had a positive or negative impact on diversity initiatives. On one hand, remote work reduces everyone to their empirical basics. Individuals are more likely to be judged on the merits of their performance, uncluttered by physical appearance or mannerisms. The flip side is that individuality is the basis of diversity and nuanced assessments may be a good thing. As the year draws to a close, consider these three factors to creating a workplace where everyone belongs.
Reframe the Question
The prevailing mindset today is one of filling diversity quotas and creating carefully crafted images of “diverse and welcoming” workplaces. It frames the genuine shortcomings of an unbalanced workforce as a problem that can be rectified through HR policy.
Our emphasis should instead lie on how groupthink in overly homogenous teams can cripple innovative progress. Anyone who has experienced the pleasurable shock of recognizing a previously unimaginable perspective from someone of a different background or socioeconomic status can identify with that.
In creating a diverse workplace, help your colleagues and team members understand that there may be answers – and perhaps even questions – that lay just beyond their worldview. Someone from the outside looking can widen their collective scope through unique takes on the ordinary.
In tackling diversity issues, leaders tend to zero in on specific ones solely because they are trending. Important as any particular aspect may be, your focus should not disenfranchise others who are equally worthy. Resist the temptation to let transient external noise and hype affect your judgment.
The demarcations of gender and race occupy the bulk of the discussions revolving around equality. But how many leaders consider candidate diversity in terms of socioeconomic status which transcends both those criteria? How about geographical background within the country?
This type of diversity is often referred to as acquired diversity. Please see my article Looking Beyond Inherent Forms of Diversity to learn more.
Point of Genesis
The push for inclusion at many organizations begins at the candidate shortlist, which is commendable in itself. However, does it only involve the people who have submitted the résumés or those reading them as well?
It can be immensely encouraging for candidates to see someone of the same gender or color, or with a familiar background, sitting in a position of responsibility. By introducing diversity to both sides of the interview table, a company can mitigate many of the inclusion shortfalls that occur down the line.
Managers need the right balance of soft and hard skills to manage diverse workforces and bring out the best in every team member. Look for that ability within your teams and elevate suitably talented candidates to management positions.
To learn more about the importance of diversity within your organization, visit the Diversity & Inclusion section of my website or contact me today to discuss further.