With the advent of migration, societies come together. This merging of societies is inevitable. Because it is a response to the advancement of transportation and globalization. In the workplace, it is to be expected that people are of a different cultural background, race, gender etc.
It’s easy to think that diversity is only for idealists with a moral compass. But no matter your race, gender or cultural background, diversity affects businesses. The conduct of studies prove that workplace diversity has long-term positive effects. Harvard Business Review found out that workplace diversity results in faster problem-solving.
Julie Kratz is a firm believer in diversity, focusing on gender equality in the workplace. She is the founder of Next Pivot Point which hones leaders to be inclusive.
To incite true, transformational change, start with those who lead people. The role of leaders becomes even more important when it comes to diversity. They are tasked to bring people together which is the essence of being an inclusive leader.
But being inclusive becomes quite a challenge when you’re dealing with people who are completely different from you. So in order to be an inclusive leader in the face of diversity, here are some tips.
Tip #1: Lead like an Ally
To be an ally is to side with the people that you lead. And in order to be an ally, you first must be self-aware. As a leader, you should assess who you are and how you look to those you lead. This means that you must figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. What kind of ally do you want to be for others? How’s your emotional intelligence?
Another thing that’s important to know as a leader, is bias. Bias is inherent in everyone. You must know what your biases are and learn how to manage them. Only by knowing and managing your biases do you have the chance of recognizing the bias of others.
Tip #2: Make it Personal
It’s hard to care about others if they don’t concern you. This fact isn’t blatant disregard of others but a reality of human nature. If we stripped away all the sophistication of the lifestyle of today, we’re left to be what we are. Animals who are protective and territorial of the things that we consider to be our own. So talk to your people. Get familiar with their concerns, their passions, their little idiosyncrasies. What if you learned that the female colleague sitting across is being paid less doing the exact same job that you do? What if you learn that even if that female colleague had a higher position than you, she would remain to be paid less?
Leaders should know their people’s stories. Once you start doing this, it would be impossible to turn a blind eye to what their situation is.
Tip #3: Be Aware and Get People Aware
Taking the effort to know the stories of those who are underrepresented is synonymous to awareness. But now that you get the situation, you need to share that.
Part of the entire process of being an inclusive leader is to develop everyday, inclusive leadership behaviors. Now this is where you take what you know, what you’re aware and do something about it. Non-inclusive behavior is subtle, oftentimes disregarded. A good place so start being an inclusive leader is to recognize these little instances of discrimination. But it shouldn’t stop there. An inclusive leader will speak up and do something about it.
Being an inclusive leader is a journey, not a destination. There is no one, straight path that you will follow. The process is as dynamic as the people that you seek to serve. So when things start to get blurry, stop and remember the question above.