It is clear that diversity and inclusion is neither a cake walk, nor it is rocket science. The key here is to get started – the earlier the better and the longer you wait to build a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, the harder it will be in the future.
Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. Diversity without inclusion is like a toy car without battery. Inclusion is what makes diversity beneficial. It is detectable in the team, during conversations and ultimately the business results if done right in an organization. There’s no one-size fits all approach or quick checklist for diversity and inclusion and hence we see many organizations struggling in embedding their daily systems and processes to diversity and inclusion.
The first step to the road diversity and inclusion is to be mindful that inclusion is a mindset more than anything and one must believe in its values. Research indicates that teams that operate in an inclusive culture outperform their peers significantly. Inclusion might seem intangible, but it does have direct impact on the bottom line of the business because inclusive work culture lays down a smooth foundation for innovation.
So, the most innovative and disruptive activities are successful when:
- We have diverse set of minds
- We share their perspectives
- Listen each other empathetically
- And challenge one another without fear and without downgrading each other
But these diversity and inclusion activities doesn’t happen just like that. There is a secret ingredient involved in it, which is, psychological safety. It is about creating a safe environment where employees feel that they can come to work as they are and put their thoughts and perspectives without the fear of being misunderstood or being judged.
Psychological safety allows moderate level of taking risks, speaking one’s heart and mind out, being creative and taking a stance on ones believe systems without the fear of having it cut off. One must understand while designing these activities that fear is creativity’s long-lived enemy and the ultimate killer of innovation.
An impactful and effective diversity and inclusion activity always requires a balance between bold initiatives and the details. However, we see only the bigger picture instead of its implications on day-to-day operations. It is always suggested that instead of viewing it as all or nothing, one must build momentum by starting with baby steps and making it huge, while designing diversity and inclusion activities for employees. These small baby steps can be converting all the job descriptions to gender-neutral languages or just using gender neutral languages in our day to day interaction be it on calls, emails or face to face meetings.
A perfect activity for practicing gender neutral language is to have a GNJ or gender-neutral jar for a friendly reminder against unnecessarily gendered language in office. Whenever someone accidentally genders something gender-neutral, they put INR 50 in the jar. Once it reaches INR 5000, donate the money to some charity.
Hence, we hope by going through this article you may have some solid pointers to be kept in mind while designing diversity and inclusion activities. If you still find it difficult, please feel free to reach Strengthscape who have experts in Diversity and Inclusion domain.