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2: Four steps to embracing diversity

Welcome back to our Diversity & Inclusion blog series! This week, we’re talking about embracing diversity and inclusion in your organization. 

There is a clear path from understanding our innate differences are humans to organizational change where diversity and inclusion are fully embraced and highly valued. The four basic principles are openness, awareness, understanding / appreciation, and respect.

1 OpennessOpenness

It starts with being open to diversity, both at the individual and organizational level. What does this mean? The first step is seeking to understand each other, especially when two opinions are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Another step is letting go of rigid rules people must follow in order to be successful in an organization. Embracing diversity means embracing different styles, ideas and approaches, which in turn promotes communication, cooperation and unique individual brilliance, leading to greater organizational success.

Finally, talking openly about the differences between people and the value diversity brings to the company is essential. The best leaders inspire and motivate by example, so to take root, this initiative needs to begin with the executive team—and not just in words, but also actions that follow. At NWCFO, we’ve found that this is often best supported by engaging outside culture consultants or coaches, who can bring a fresh and unbiased perspective to the process.

2 AwarenessAwareness

Awareness is always a key step toward making any change, personally or professionally. This is where personality assessments come in handy. Some of the most well-known and widely used personality tests are the Meyers-Briggs test, the DiSC assessment, and Personalysis. These assessments are based on the assumption that everyone without exception has strengths, gifts and opportunities for growth. 

The Personalysis assessment, which is the tool we use here at NWCFO, helps participants better understand themselves and others in three key areas:

Engagement

Engagement: The activities you most enjoy, the work you really like to do, and what you find rewarding and energizing.

Communication

Communication: How you show up, connect, and interact in the world, and your natural communication style.

Decision Making

Decision-Making: How you solve problems, learn, what type of information you must have and what you must do to build trust, feel confident and commit to action.

Personality assessment tools help create a common and safe language for everyone in an organization to have productive discussions about personal styles, teamwork and collaboration.

3 UnderstandingUnderstanding and appreciation

To create an inclusive culture, effective processes, tools and practices must be put in place allowing people to learn about diversity, experience it directly, and understand the value created by it with the goal of getting everyone involved—executives, managers and employees.

There are a number of ways to support understanding and appreciation of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an organization, including:

  • Announcements about new and progressing D&I initiatives
  • Comprehensive employee training
  • Coaching
  • Informal one-on-one, team and company-wide “fireside chat” conversations.

Changes like these do not happen overnight, so this is a long-term commitment that requires patience and consistent effort.

 

Quote Mark Blue

“People tend to see [DEI] as ‘passion’ work, but it’s a strategic, organizational commitment. We aren’t going to get immediate results, but progress hinges on goals, data, measurement and a culture of accountability. The more resources you put in, the more you get in the form of a safe and sustainable work culture.”

Diya Khanna, a DEI manager in the tech industry

4 RespectRespect for ourselves and others

Self-respect is created when people can draw on the strengths of their natural personality styles and contribute at the highest level, because they feel safe to be authentic and fully themselves.  This is important because people who truly accept and value who they are tend to honor those around them in the same way. Respect is both an intention and an action, which shows up in every interaction we have with each other.

As diversity and inclusion take firm roots in your organization, support of a coach can be very useful for leaders and employees alike. Our team of certified coaches at NWCFO has not only been trained in transformational leadership and career coaching, but also personally experienced these kinds of transformations in our own lives—working with executive coaches consistently over time. We have seen ourselves and our clients go from overwhelmed, burned out and under-actualized to thriving, making a big impact, and living their best lives.

People who value their own uniqueness and diversity in every area of their life tend to honor those around them in the same way.

The bottom line is that transformation in your organization always starts within yourself. Invest in growth, learning new skills and better understanding of others and the world—and you will see the ripple effects of positive impact across your relationships, your organization and your community.

Be sure to come back next week for the final article in our 3-part Diversity & Inclusion blog series—we’ll be focusing on the ROI of D&I initiatives, and you don’t want to miss it!

Download the full Embracing Diversity and Inclusion guide to learn more about the different personal styles, understanding and managing emotions, how to create a culture of diversity and inclusion, and the significant impact it can have on your bottom line.