Our post today comes from Cherise Tolbert who is an influencer among diverse job seekers across the country for LatPro, an award winning employment website working to connect employers throughout the Americas with diverse job seekers. You can connect with Cherise on LinkedIn.
Workplace diversity is trending; it is an important requirement for innovation and company success. Although workplace diversity is a hot topic many HR professionals are still unfamiliar with how to foster an inclusive workplace culture.
It is one thing to make sure that there are a certain number of people on your team who fit the “diversity” category on paper, but it is completely different to attain true workplace diversity. For that to happen, an inclusive culture must be fostered.
An inclusive office respects and welcomes the ideas of everyone and ensures all employees not only feel safe but appreciated for their unique qualifications, traits, and perspectives. This is hard enough to do in a homogenous office, but is essential in a diverse office; it is the way of the future. As a leader, you must set up space that fosters this environment.
So, what can you do to foster this inclusive office mindset?
For starters, integrate routines that regularly offer opportunities for ALL employees to have their ideas heard. This means that not only do you hear the ideas, but people feel listened to; you must show you find their ideas valuable. This does not have to be complicated, and there is an abundance of creative ways to do this.
For example, create a practice of hosting weekly or bi-weekly 30-minute brainstorming meetings. In these meetings, you will need to set up a structure where employees share their ideas. You could ask everyone to submit problems or solutions before the meeting, and use the meeting to find ways to integrate those solutions, or communicate how you plan to use certain solutions, or that you at least heard them.
Giving feedback is key. When employees feel appreciated, they will feel the you listened to them. You don’t have to use every idea every time, but simply showing that you appreciate their effort to offer good ideas shows your appreciation. This type of setup also allows employees not only to be listened to by you, but to listen to each other.
This is the key to fostering a sense of equality by bringing everyone to an equal drawing board. If you lead by example, in the way that you listen to and appreciate the diversity of ideas people offer, humans naturally tend to follow suit.
Another way to foster the understanding and appreciation of unique individual qualities is to try an updated version of the old school “show and tell.” You can feature employee bios in a weekly newsletter, or find ways for those who do not normally work together to collaborate on smaller projects on a rotating basis. This is just a couple examples of ways that offer everyone opportunities to learn about differences and similarities. After all, true inclusion at its core “includes” everyone; mixing, enhancing, incorporating, envisioning, and appreciating what all can offer.