A new year is an opportunity to grow and develop not only as an individual, but as a team in the workplace. Going into 2020, make inclusion a priority for your organization’s growth plans and help transform your workplace 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 four ways that you can make the workplace more inclusive and the benefits that follow.
Cast a wider net for 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.
Challenge the status quo in 2020 by inviting team members you ordinarily wouldn’t to your strategy and brainstorm sessions. You may find that someone brings some perspective to the table that takes an idea in a new and exciting direction.
Lightbulb moments can come from anywhere in the organization, and widening your pool of sources provides you with more ideas to work from. Even companies that have a very diverse team miss out on these ideas if those individuals are not included in the ideation process.
Build on others’ experiences
Our thought process and the way we view the world is shaped by the challenges we’ve overcome, the social circles we’re exposed to, and the relationships we build along the way. The more inclusive your workplace, the more life experiences you and your team have to draw on in your quest to adapt and innovate.
This year, try organizing problem-solving meetings with team members who you may not normally seek out. Ask them for their insight or thoughts on a potential solution. When groups of people with unique perspectives are able to contribute to the process, roadblocks are resolved more quickly and solutions are more versatile. This not only brings forward ideas that you may not normally be exposed to, but helps team members keep an eye out for solutions because they know the culture is ripe to receive them.
Pay attention to your assumptions in 2019
Assumptions kill diversity and inclusion because they are based in stereotypes and can cause us 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.
In 2020, offer your employees training programs to help them recognize their unconscious biases and learn to interact and manage in spite of their biases, rather than as a consequence of them. A workplace where people don’t rush to assumptions is one that is generally more inclusive and enables leaders and employees to 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. Make this commitment a priority for the new year and beyond.
Embrace new leadership styles in the new year
In a diverse team, there will inevitably be a variety of different leadership styles. Inclusion allows different styles to be accepted, but this doesn’t need 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.
In the new year, encourage your employees to accept diverse leadership styles by rotating who runs meetings, and 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.