by Sarah Kirshbaum
Diversity in the workplace has been a large focus in social media and recruitment for universities, workplaces, and advertisements. However that is just the first step. Having a diverse staff means you have opened the door to all types of people, but this does not mean you have an inclusive environment.
Inclusivity in the workplace means you are respecting and encouraging people's differences. When you have multiple races, cultures, genders, and religions in a group of people this provides more opportunity for ideas and strategies. Encourage people to share their backgrounds, hobbies, daily experiences, and points of view; during discussions, meetings, and breaks because you will find new ways to understand and think about everything you are doing. The best way to do this is to lead by example! It is important when creating a foundation for the workplace to establish that inclusion is the expectation, not the exception.
However, a lot of the time this can be done in an offensive way. Remember: Appreciation vs Appropriation. The simple explanation for this concept is knowledge. Ask yourself, "Do you understand and participate in the practice that this action, phrase, or item is traditionally used as?" If you do not, you representing a part of a culture disrespectfully.
The second rule to remember is that you are not including someone who may be different from you because they are different. You are including them because they are people.
These pictures below are a non example! This is a scene form the movie Freedom Writers. The teacher invites the student to speak because she is black not because she intelligent, a good student, or even raising her hand.
As a leader you should include people's culture and perspectives by creating an open space for people to provide their own opinions not expect POC (people of color) to advocate for their entire race. This is like only talking to a person from Wisconsin about cheese because one day you were told that Wisconsin is known for making cheese. Get to know the individual.
Your individual background, culture, or skin color does not decide the norm, it is just your norm. Everyone's culture and upbringing can provide value to the conversation and would help widen the audience that can identify with your work.
In order to provide an inclusive environment you need to have a welcoming and open environment first. Employees need to feel safe to be themselves, and know that they are not the person in the group that is "different" but instead everyone is contributing to the same goal.
Watch our video called, Inclusivity in the Workplace, to learn how to conduct introductions and expectations so everyone knows and feels their validity.