Encouraging Respect and Diversity in an Organization
Encouraging diversity in an organization is one of the most important strategies for building trust, inspiring employee loyalty and creating an all around better experience for everyone in the organization. This is because cultivating diversity allows you to make the most of the diversity of talent through encouraging creative and synergistic cooperation among team members. Encouraging respect and diversity in an organization also helps to build a level of appreciation for differences which spills over into the way that your employees deal with clients and customers.
As you can imagine, this could mean a significant increase in your company's bottom line, not to mention that it also makes your job easier as a leader. So let's look at some simple and creative strategies for encouraging respect and diversity in and organization.
The Beginning of Cultivating Diversity in an Organization
The first step to cultivating respect and diversity in an organization is focusing on the things which unite the people in your company. Many times, the cultivation of diversity begins with trying to understand differences...which is important. But when it comes to building meaningful relationships, people are more likely to look for similarities and common ground. This is because common ground helps people to relate with one another on terms which they both can understand thus eliminating a lot of the fear and discomfort which might come as a result of trying to understand and accept differences.
This can be done in the form of small icebreakers at the start of meetings where each person shares a similar story or experience such as their most challenging problem that they overcame on the job. In organizations where the trust level is high and where it's appropriate, you can even encourage icebreakers where your employees share more personal details. Most importantly, start to develop creative strategies for building awareness of the things which unite your team members...especially if it's towards the achievement of a common goal.
What you'll find is that this gets to the root quicker than superficial diversity building exercises which don't touch people at their core. What you'll find as you use this approach is that common ground awakens people's natural sense of empathy and compassion, which naturally encourages mutual respect. Once a strong foundation is built upon this principle, it will be much easier to teach people to appreciate diversity.
Cultivating Diversity Through Removing of Hidden Obstacles
After your employees and team members have developed an appreciation for the things which they have in common, their natural sense of humanity will drive them towards respecting one another. However, in order to accomplish this it's important to remove the hidden obstacles to cultivating diversity. Are there unspoken rules and cultures within your organization which aren't part of your training and which can't be found anywhere in the employee manual, but which have developed out of the neglect to remove such squash them before they arise?
If so, (and these are more common than most leaders realize once they start to look for them) learning to spot these things is crucial for encouraging respect and diversity in an organization. Start making it a point to pay attention to employee behavior patterns (both direct and indirect), which are naturally working to destroy diversity. Then, seek to crush these patterns and replace them with new ones. A great way to do this is by identifying the key influencers within your organization and working on influencing them first (these can be anybody from the top managers to the entry level subordinates).
Encouraging Talent Diversity in an Organization
Most of the time when people think of encouraging respect and diversity within an organization, there is a significant emphasis on diversity of race, sex, color and other factors. However, few people consider importance of the talent diversity in an organization. However, increasing people to respect one another's diverse talents can help to build a stronger sense of unity and teamwork within your organization. A great approach to begin cultivating this kind of respect and diversity in an organization is to start giving recognition for the people who perform tasks which otherwise would go unnoticed.
Also, if it's at all possible it might be a good idea to have some of your more influential team members spend some time observing other departments or working alongside people who perform tasks which are different and theirs. After all, nothing cultivates mutual respect and understanding like having someone walking another person shoes. What you'll find is that the more you encourage people to respect diversity of talent, the more encouraged they'll be to respect diversity of all kinds.
Now make it happen!