Diversity and inclusion are morally right and financially sound, just as their inverse, “homogeneity and excluding people,” are morally wrong and unprofitable.
At the same time, you have to do it right. It’s not about deciding who has the right to speak—it is about highlighting and eliminating the toxic power dynamics that shut quiet voices down.
For this reason, and because this kind of work involves discovery between people, diversity and inclusion are a conversation, not a set of politically correct platitudes. If someone is walking out of a discussion feeling silenced for any reason, it’s not being implemented well.
Positivity happens when the hidden aspects of our uniqueness become interesting to the group.
Ask people about their views.
Ask them who their influences are.
It’s a shame that discussions of diversity often trigger people, or are made to be punitive or weaponized. Some of my best work experiences have been interfaith prayer meetings, heritage celebrations, and attending Christmas caroling at work. The awkwardness of learning is beautiful.
Psychological safety and attentiveness to diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand. If an employee feels safe to talk about what they’re feeling, this provides a pipeline to recognizing issues requiring management attention.
Building a workspace characterized by respect and openness takes time, and your personal energy. Don’t try to buy your way out of it with consultants; don’t do it as an afterthought; and don’t shy away from digging in and learning. Ignorant isn’t the same as incompetent.
As a leader, you build relationship capital with others when you not only allow them to be themselves, but also to say difficult things when needed.
You’ll never gain that insight if the conversation is just an echo chamber in disguise.
By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain. Photo by crisdip from Pexels.