Pope Consulting - Diversity in Action

Beyond Buzzwords: Intentionally Creating an Inclusive Workplace

Inclusion in the workplace is far more than just a buzzword. It is a concept that can help transform your organization into one that is better prepared, more adaptive, and exceedingly creative. The more diversity and inclusion you bring to your team, the greater your chances of finding groundbreaking insights and solutions. Below are ways that you can make the workplace more inclusive and the benefits that follow.

Expose your team to diverse ideas

One mistake that people often make is in assuming that diversity is only reflected in the more visible differences such as race, ethnicity, age/generation and gender. But differences also manifest in people’s thinking styles, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, and life experiences.

Game-changing ideas can come from anywhere in the organization, and the greater the breadth of different ideas in the company, the more sources you’ll have to solicit them from. Even companies that have a very diverse team miss out on these ideas if those individuals are not included in the ideation process.

Try shaking up your routine and discussing strategies and ideas with people outside of your usual circle. You may find that someone brings some perspective to the table that takes an idea in a new and exciting direction.

Benefit from others’ experiences

The challenges that people overcome, the social circles they’re exposed to, and the relationships they build all greatly depend on the circumstances of their lives. They also shape one’s thought process and way of looking at the world.

When your workplace is more inclusive, you’ll have access to a wider variety of these life experiences in your quest to adapt and innovate. When groups of people with unique perspectives are able to contribute to the process, roadblocks are resolved more quickly and solutions are more versatile.

Try organizing problem-solving meetings with members who may not normally be brought to the table and ask them for their insight or thoughts on a potential solution. It not only brings forward ideas that you may not normally be exposed to, but it shows value to your entire team and helps team members keep an eye out for solutions because they know the culture is ripe to receive them.

Learn to dispel assumptions

Assumptions kill diversity and inclusion because they reinforce stereotypes and encourage people to keep others in boxes. They’re usually bad for business as well, because they can blind you to realities that may be holding you back.

That’s why organizations must offer training programs that enable all employees to recognize their unconscious biases, so that they can learn to interact and manage in spite of their bias, rather than as a consequence of them. A workplace where people don’t rush to assumptions is one that is generally more inclusive, and has leaders and employees who find creative solutions more often.

Organizing training is a key element of this step, but any training will be incomplete without an ongoing commitment to continuing the conversation beyond the binder and having it truly affect the culture.

Embrace different leadership styles

Increasing diversity inevitably leads to a  variety of different leadership styles.  Inclusion allows different styles to be accepted.  Encourage your employees to accept diverse leadership styles by rotating who runs meetings, and also switching up leadership positions on committees and task forces. This will help people understand that the different ‘lens’ through which people view and solve problems is based on their life experiences.

Workplace inclusion doesn’t have to be complicated. Before an entire team can accept diverse ideas, learn from others’ experiences, dispel assumptions, or embrace different leadership styles, there first must be a culture of inclusion intentionally created within your organization.

The diversity and inclusion experts at Pope Consulting can help you find ways to reap the benefits of an inclusive workplace. We help start the dialogue that leads to real change in a culture – whether that is your workplace, team, organization, or community group. We have worked with over 250 Fortune 500 companies and have helped many many recognize the value of having an inclusive culture for everyone.

Contact us today if you’d like to learn about how inclusion can improve your organization’s innovation, work environment and results.