So why is it necessary to create Diversity & Inclusion champions in the workplace? Isn’t it natural for us to include all our team members in any decision-making process? Why do people managers need to invest time and effort in attending diversity and inclusion training?
Diversity is now increasingly noticed at workplace. People with different gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ability, thinking styles and age work together in teams that are aligned to common goals. Diversity, while it represents an obvious business case for success could pose challenges for any people manager on a day to day basis. While diversity increases creativity and innovation, it could also pave way for conflict, passive disengagement and incivility in teams. It is for the people managers and leaders to maximize the potential of a diverse workforce. For doing so, structured diversity and inclusion training for managers must be planned.
Because, we have natural affiliation towards those who are like us, or those who belong to the group we get our sense of identity from, and subtly or expressively dislike those who belong to a different group or identity, there is a potential for conflict, groupism and skewed decision making. For making group decision making processes unbiased and effective, a structured approach is required. By promoting and conducting diversity and inclusion training for managers, organizations can disrupt this natural inclination that percolates biasness towards similar groups or people.
How people commit to tasks and how they contribute to an organization directly relates to the extent of support they get form their co-workers. Psychosocial support especially by co-workers, is a determinant of on the job performance. When managers, trained on understanding diversity and creating inclusion, support their team members, they improve individual performance directly. When people feel that their manager genuinely cares about them, they contribute more.
Diversity and Inclusion Training Programs
Diversity and Inclusion training for managers typically includes extensive discussions and reflections on the biases that exist in any group of people. They may have a cultural or an individual genesis. When people managers understand commonly existing biases that others and they themselves may have, they are able to confront them better. People can engage in active support by confronting bias when it emerges in their work. By being outspoken or openly supporting minorities or groups that may be at the risk of being prejudiced, managers can be effective in protecting, engaging and gaining trust of underrepresented groups.
It is important that managers are self-aware and appreciate that everyone could have biases. An easy extension of the concept of fundamental attribution error is that people believe that others are more prejudiced or bias than they are. High stress environment, significant mental demands of cognitively complex tasks and own aspiration together create situations for managers where they may not realize their own biases. By reflecting on their past behaviors, the outcomes of those behaviors and seeking a diverse feedback in a high trust environment, managers can attempt to break their own biases and their tendency to build stereotypes.
Micro inequities can emerge anywhere. A good diversity and inclusion training program for managers would help them understand the kind of micro-inequities that emerge in a day to day basis. Managers must be able to identify and disrupt stereotypes, be fair in their valuation of people’s contribution to work and pay attention to how they manage their own time. People with similar thinking style or cultural backgrounds may monopolize a leader’s time in a team situation and this may leave people from underrepresented group feel undervalued.
Workplace experience is the relationship with the immediate manager and the kind of work environment the manager builds. A manager’s behaviours may also stem from the overall organizational culture. Many organizations proactively have an egalitarian process of decision making, and such cultures have a positive effect on how employees view their workplace. When work environment is seen as being supportive of diversity, it improves the experience people have of their workplace. They may assume inclusion as a direct outcome of a management’s commitment to supporting and creating diversity. All these lead to greater commitment, employee engagement and overall productivity.