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Unleashing the Power of Diversity

Diversity can benefit your company– when it’s managed well. At its best, diversity causes employees to rethink their opinions, appreciate differences, serve a diverse customer base, and come up with better solutions to problems. At its worst, diversity can lead to disagreements, disrespect, and company division. Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is only half the equation. Once you have diversity, how do you solicit its value? Here are 5 principles for making diversity an asset rather than a liability. 

     1. Become an organization of world-class listeners.  

The beauty of diversity is that you have multiple perspectives represented. These opinions aren’t fully realized until people start listening to each other. When people listen to understand rather than simply respond, they can engage with each other’s ideas, consider the strengths and weaknesses of those ideas, and respond in ways that are well thought out. Not only will employees uncover better solutions to problems by listening to each other, but they’ll also greatly improve their relationships and build trust and appreciation. Consider implementing a company-wide training on listening. Consistently stress the importance of listening, and model it to your employees through your leadership. 

     2. Facilitate healthy discord.  

The power of diversity is unleashed through healthy conflict and resolution. Train your leaders to become facilitators of healthy discord. A major part of generating productive conversations in which employees feel psychologically safe to share their opinions is building relationships. Leaders can also utilize techniques to spark good discussions. For instance, you might assign a devil’s advocate, call on each employee individually to share their perspective, or prompt employees to make the best case for alternative solutions. These methods might feel clunky at first, but they can break the ice and get your team to a point where there is a free-flowing of diverse ideas. 

     3. Use mentorship to improve diversity at the top.  

Does your organization look diverse at the lower levels of the company, but the top is more homogenous? Use a mentorship program to improve diversity levels at the top. Pair minority members who are interested in climbing the company ladder with senior leaders in the company. Having a mentor who can get you connected, point you to resources, and give you insight on how to meet goals is important to members of minority groups who want to step into senior leadership positions. 

      4. Take inventory of the diversity in your teams.  

On average, teams with more diversity of perspective outperform teams with homogenous perspectives. Some of your teams might be more homogenous than others. Perhaps you have a team that could benefit from a new perspective. Take inventory on the perspectives you have represented and disperse your diversity so that each team has a plethora of education, experience, and skills to draw from. 

      5. Make celebration and collaboration the heart of diversity initiatives.  

Let’s face it: not everyone loves, or is on board with, diversity initiatives. The way you communicate and frame them deeply impacts how they’ll be received. Refrain from limiting diversity to one specific type of diversity (race, gender, etc.) in your communication. Instead, highlight the fact that we all bring diversity to the workplace. Further, communicate that diversity leads to more effective collaboration than there would be without diversity. The spirit of your diversity messages, programs, and other initiatives should be one of positivity, celebration, and collaboration. 

By creating a culture of deep appreciation, trust, and listening, diversity can deliver engagement and innovation. This isn’t to say there won’t be roadblocks and mistakes made along the way. Leave room for understanding and growth. Leaders with a positive, celebratory vision and approach to employee differences can create a workplace that leverages diversity to its fullest advantage. 

Want to learn more strategies for leading a diverse workforce? Grab a copy of our complimentary guide here! 

Diversity can benefit your company– when it’s managed well. At its best, diversity causes employees to rethink their opinions, appreciate differences, serve a diverse customer base, and come up with better solutions to problems. At its worst, diversity can lead to disagreements, disrespect, and company division. Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is only half the equation. Once you have diversity, how do you solicit its value? Here are 5 principles for making diversity an asset rather than a liability. 

     1. Become an organization of world-class listeners.  

The beauty of diversity is that you have multiple perspectives represented. These opinions aren’t fully realized until people start listening to each other. When people listen to understand rather than simply respond, they can engage with each other’s ideas, consider the strengths and weaknesses of those ideas, and respond in ways that are well thought out. Not only will employees uncover better solutions to problems by listening to each other, but they’ll also greatly improve their relationships and build trust and appreciation. Consider implementing a company-wide training on listening. Consistently stress the importance of listening, and model it to your employees through your leadership. 

     2. Facilitate healthy discord.  

The power of diversity is unleashed through healthy conflict and resolution. Train your leaders to become facilitators of healthy discord. A major part of generating productive conversations in which employees feel psychologically safe to share their opinions is building relationships. Leaders can also utilize techniques to spark good discussions. For instance, you might assign a devil’s advocate, call on each employee individually to share their perspective, or prompt employees to make the best case for alternative solutions. These methods might feel clunky at first, but they can break the ice and get your team to a point where there is a free-flowing of diverse ideas. 

     3. Use mentorship to improve diversity at the top.  

Does your organization look diverse at the lower levels of the company, but the top is more homogenous? Use a mentorship program to improve diversity levels at the top. Pair minority members who are interested in climbing the company ladder with senior leaders in the company. Having a mentor who can get you connected, point you to resources, and give you insight on how to meet goals is important to members of minority groups who want to step into senior leadership positions. 

      4. Take inventory of the diversity in your teams.  

On average, teams with more diversity of perspective outperform teams with homogenous perspectives. Some of your teams might be more homogenous than others. Perhaps you have a team that could benefit from a new perspective. Take inventory on the perspectives you have represented and disperse your diversity so that each team has a plethora of education, experience, and skills to draw from. 

      5. Make celebration and collaboration the heart of diversity initiatives.  

Let’s face it: not everyone loves, or is on board with, diversity initiatives. The way you communicate and frame them deeply impacts how they’ll be received. Refrain from limiting diversity to one specific type of diversity (race, gender, etc.) in your communication. Instead, highlight the fact that we all bring diversity to the workplace. Further, communicate that diversity leads to more effective collaboration than there would be without diversity. The spirit of your diversity messages, programs, and other initiatives should be one of positivity, celebration, and collaboration. 

By creating a culture of deep appreciation, trust, and listening, diversity can deliver engagement and innovation. This isn’t to say there won’t be roadblocks and mistakes made along the way. Leave room for understanding and growth. Leaders with a positive, celebratory vision and approach to employee differences can create a workplace that leverages diversity to its fullest advantage. 

Want to learn more strategies for leading a diverse workforce? Grab a copy of our complimentary guide here! 

Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Feb 14, 2022
Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Feb 14, 2022