Encouraging diverse personalities, values and attitudes at your workplace
Businesses are still falling short of diversity standards. So, how can you encourage diverse personalities, values and attitudes at your workplace?
When you look around your offices, what do you see? Do you mostly see the same kind of people, not just in terms of appearance, but in values, priorities, and background too?
Or do you see people from all walks of life? Perhaps your company is filled with a wonderfully diverse mix of people of different races, genders, orientations, and ages – as well as attitudes, learning and physical abilities and personalities too.
If it’s not, it should be. When you have a workforce that’s mostly made up of the same kinds of people, it not only leaves you open to scrutiny, it stifles opportunities for growth.
Yes, being like-minded isn’t always best. Creating a diverse workforce offers the best chance for innovation and fosters an environment where teammates and colleagues have much to learn from one another.
In fact, research shows that diverse workplaces have better employee retention, as well as being more welcoming and productive. Diversity in the workplace is also linked to an increase in innovation and a reduction in ‘groupthink’ – a group decision-making process that results in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.
What’s more, a McKinsey report shows that the most diverse companies are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers in terms of profitability.
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Despite the benefits – and obvious moral obligations – of creating an inclusive environment, data suggests many companies aren’t meeting diversity standards. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 78% of employees said they work at organisations that lack diversity in leadership positions.
Meanwhile, in a Gallup study, 45% of American workers said they experienced discrimination and/or harassment in the past year.
If you’ve scanned your company and realised that your workforce isn’t as diverse as it should be, and that company culture is unconsciously stifling the performance of a few, there are many ways you can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, one that allows everyone to thrive.
Here are just a few…
Reconsider your hiring practices
It’s important to widen the talent pool and to post your job openings on a variety of platforms, where a more diverse group of people will be likely to see them.
Only posting your job on social media, for example, could exclude older generations from applying, while putting an ad out in the local paper is unlikely to attract anyone from outside the local catchment area. You’re eliminating a whole lot of diverse talent right there.
Be sure to cast the net far and wide.
Mind your language
Words matter. They shape our perception of a company and this is never more true than when scanning a job ad. Are you doing your utmost to ensure your job posts imply that your company is welcoming to everyone?
Some job boards, such as the NI Jobs platform, for example, enable you to use a Gender Bias tool. This tool allows you to check and correct gendered language before publishing, ensuring that you aren’t accidentally favouring one gender over another. It’s a good idea to do your own checks too to make sure you aren’t excluding anyone across other spaces due to your language by orientation, ethnicity, values or age demographic.
Also, consider whether you’ve used overly complex or technical language that could alienate people from different generations or educational backgrounds. This is especially important if you’re hiring for an entry-level position where training will be provided on the job.
This doesn’t just go for your recruitment materials either; have a look through your company’s communication methods. How do the ‘higher-ups’ communicate with everyone else on the team? Could you make this more inclusive too?
Make way for introverts
Workplaces often unconsciously favour people with extroverted personalities. The people who can confidently present their ideas in a meeting, speak up when there’s a problem, or deliver a quality presentation are often first in line for a promotion.
But that doesn’t mean you should overlook introverts. Research shows that introverts are an asset in the workforce thanks to their empathetic and creative-thinking attributes.
So how can you create a safe environment for the more introverted people in your workforce? Considering other communication methods is key. For example, introverted people might feel more comfortable presenting their bright ideas in an email, rather than delivering them in front of a group.
Ensuring that introverted personalities are considered for promotion and offered the same career advancement opportunities as their more extroverted peers shows them that they are valued too.
Remind your staff that all ideas are welcome
A diverse workplace is a workplace where all voices are heard and everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves, regardless of age, race, gender or learning abilities.
Regular reminders that no idea is too silly or too out-of-the-box and that it’s safe to share your bright idea without judgment, shame, or ridicule could bring out the best in all of your employees.
Make workplace policies more inclusive
It’s time to pull out that employee handbook and go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Have you unknowingly displayed bias when it comes to dress code, holidays or parental leave?
If you want to make your company more inclusive to working parents, consider updating your policies to allow for more flexible working hours and extra parental leave. If your company’s dress code dictates that people can’t wear certain hairstyles or have tattoos, consider if this excludes anyone from a particular culture. What about holidays? You can foster inclusivity by allowing employees paid time off for cultural and religious holidays and giving space to celebrate their diverse families.
We all have blind spots when it comes to diversity, so if you’re looking through your company practices and you aren’t sure if they are inclusive enough, the best way to find out is to ask for feedback from your employees.
Diversity starts by considering everyone’s opinions. When you take this feedback onboard and reshape your company culture according to it, you create an environment that is inclusive for everyone, not just a select few.
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