01 Sep Diversity and Inclusion hand in hand
We have often talked about the importance of creating diverse teams with members who have different backgrounds and experiences. But is it enough? We need to take a step forward: does our diverse team practice an inclusive culture? Encouraging diversity without developing a culture where all the valuable differences can emerge and come together will not make us successful.
Our diverse teams need leaders who are able to manage both the differences and the similarities within the group in order to help team members to work in harmony at their full potential. Here are some suggestions to create an inclusive culture:
- Write a diversity statement. Gathering all team members and agreeing on the social norms everybody expects, accepts and promotes is essential in order to start with the same foot. The statement can also be an open document that the team decides to edit as new situations come up and anytime they feel the need to explicitly share other behaviors.
If you are an incoming leader it would be precious to ask the team to share their statement with you – if they already have one – and take the opportunity to review it with the group to make sure everyone is aligned.
- As similarities and shared interests are the basis of any social interaction, leaders need to actively work to uncover common ground. This step is very important as focusing exclusively on emphasizing differences can have some negative effects on the team. The aim here is to uncover single identities so that members can interact in the unique way that makes them reach their goals.
- Give voice to all members and make them feel valued. If individuals realize that their contributions are taken into consideration they are sproned to always give more. Creating a culture of appreciation and recognition will help increase the sense of belonging to the team.
- Encourage discussions within the group. Sharing different points of view and perspectives helps team members to get to know each other and understand how to better work together. It’s important in these situations also to be ready to welcome and manage conflict in a positive way.
As a leader or diversity manager, which other inclusive behaviours are you practising in order to support your birds of a different feather flock together?