I'm frequently asked by my training clients how they can support diversity and inclusion in their organizations without creating unrest. I’ve found that the key to instituting successful diversity training programs is in our own behaviors. Think about the power you have as a leader to make your business or organization a diverse, welcoming and safe place. You set the rules and tone that guides your entire organization by behaving in positive ways. Here are some positive behaviors to think about as you create a workplace that welcomes diversity.
1. Treat everyone equally well without regard for age, race, culture, physical ability or religious background and without setting them up for failure or ridicule.
2. Have non-punitive approaches in place to deal with conflicts that arise from people having different points of view and backgrounds and that encourage respectful communication.
3. Support ongoing dialogue, training and education on diversity.
4. Create an environment for people to share opinions without fear of retribution or being mocked by others.
5. A zero tolerance policy for harassment that is backed up with educational opportunities to modify behavior.
6. A workplace that rewards people who work well with others and build excellent relationships.
7. Eliminating and discouraging cliques and exclusionary behavior.
8. Political correctness used as a tool to help people respect each other rather than a cover for saying any inappropriate thing that comes to mind..
9. Ongoing training on diversity and inclusion from the top down, everyone (especially leadership) required to attend.
10. Diversity and inclusion included in the values statement or mission of the company.
These ten concepts are building blocks of inclusion and workplace diversity. They are not difficult in and of themselves if you value them in your organization and practice them on a daily basis. People tend to perform based on the expectations and parameters we set. When leaders and managers commit to following these principles they show their employees that inclusion is a high priority at the company, not an uncomfortable training they have to suffer through occasionally as a punishment.
These ideas can be implemented without creating chaos in workplaces. Supporting diversity simply requires a commitment form the top down and ongoing training and follow-through to build in accountability. Think about yourself for a moment and how many of these points you follow daily. To create a truly diverse workplace you will hopefully practice all these behaviors every day.