Diversity represents, all other things being equal, strength. The power of a different perspective cannot be underestimated. It can give your business much-needed perspective and can lead your company down paths that a homogenous viewpoint will miss entirely. However, making your workplace more diverse and inclusive can be a lot more difficult than it sounds. Here are five ways you can accomplish this goal and transform your company:
- Have a Meeting Head Rotation
Every business has regular meetings, for numerous reasons. Who leads those meetings and directs the discussion has power and can control the flow of the conversation. That’s why it’s important to rotate who actually heads those meetings. Not only can this make meetings more engaging, as a change in the lead can keep things from feeling repetitive, but it can give people time to voice concerns they might not have voiced as a participant.
- Shuffle Up Event Timings
Different people have different contexts. Some people have families, which keep them from attending after-hours company events. Others have weekend responsibilities or hobbies that preclude them from attending events held during that time. This makes it almost impossible to assure that everyone gets to go.
While there’s no magical way to achieve 100 percent attendance, what you can instead do is hold events at different times. Consider setting them during work hours, for example, or even before them. This variety in schedule allows different people to attend different events, which minimizes instances of people feeling left out.
- Ask the Employees What They Think
One of the best ways to find out how you can make your company more inclusive is to simply ask people. They are the ones who are most affected by this culture. It stands to reason that at least some of them would have an opinion on how inclusivity can be applied. Even if you don’t end up using their suggestions, just being asked can make them feel like a part of the team and can make them more engaged.
There are several ways you can do this, depending on your company culture. Some companies elect to have meetings discussing inclusivity, as well as “suggestion boxes” for those who feel a little shy speaking up in public. One-on-one impromptu discussions can also work, depending on how things work at your business.
- Make It Easy to Talk
One of the biggest barriers to diversity and inclusivity is that it is difficult to find a platform on which to discuss non-work issues. Some feel like they’re getting in the way of other people’s productivity when they talk about such things, which can keep their voice and complaints from ever being heard. Often, it is up to you to give your employees a time and place to speak their minds.
Creating open forum events can alleviate the problem. Multiple and recurring open forums to account for schedules and absences should be used.
- Assume Nothing
Much like many things in business, the worst thing you can do when it comes to inclusiveness is to assume anything. Assume nothing – and make sure that everyone in the office knows this rule. Do not assume anyone’s genders, preferences, anything. Don’t assume that things are going well.
On the flip side, make sure that everyone understands that people are going to get things wrong. No amount of care or diversity will guarantee that people won’t misunderstand an issue or say the wrong things. However, if the company’s personnel have a history of attempting to get it right, people may be more inclined to assume that no malice was intended. This lets the company get along better, which means higher productivity and an improved work environment.
Diversity and inclusivity are not easy things to discuss, especially in a business setting. Emotions can run high, which can make attempts at communication and understanding difficult. However, you must find a way to get through to your company. An inclusive and diverse workplace is often also a more productive and successful workplace.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.