Are your biases hurting the way you interact with coworkers? Examine them!
When your company has a group of like-minded people, what types of ideas do you think they will come up with? In general, people from similar backgrounds will share comparable perspectives in the workplace. And we want cohesiveness and agreeability, right?
Well, not always. Without a variety of perspectives in, for example, a brainstorming discussion on better recruiting tactics targeting millennials, there could be missed opportunities to push new ideas forward. Ideas can only grow if they are challenged from various angles. Same with your company.
This is why diversity is key in the workplace. It’s not only the right decision, but a smart decision as well. Maintaining a diverse company atmosphere benefits recruiters, leadership, and employees alike.
Why diversity and inclusion will benefit your company
Think of diversity and inclusion the way Verna Myers suggests: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In the workplace, it’s important to promote a culture of inclusion, one in which your employees feel they can speak up and have their voices heard. As far as leadership positions go, it helps for your employees to see people who represent them.
While most people associate diversity with ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic background, diversity is much more than meets the eye. With a variety of people in the workplace coming from different backgrounds, differences of opinion can tend to solve problems rather than cause them. In fact, diverse groups outperformed homogeneous groups in several recent studies.
How to adjust your company culture
Believe it or not, we carry our biases wherever we go. Throughout our lives, we’ve all gained experiences with different types of people and have associated them with both positive and negative feelings. However, in the workplace, it’s important to address your biases, and then leave them at the door.
In order to combat any negative unconscious or conscious biases that you or your employees have, try getting your team to take Harvard’s Implicit Associations Test (IAT). The test allows you to weigh your unconscious biases for gender, race, age, and more. To eliminate unconscious biases in the workplace, taking these types of tests are essential.
If your employees trust one another, they’ll be much more apt to create solutions. Relationships between leadership and employees built on mutual respect and transparency will make employees feel more comfortable coming to leadership if they feel offended by someone in the workplace. Additionally, culture committees are also helpful to adjust workplace culture, with members of every level of your company (from interns to CEOs) discussing how to improve your diversity efforts.
It’s a work in progress
Because we all carry unconscious and conscious biases, it can be tough to get rid of them. The best thing employees and leadership can do is fight against the natural tendencies we have to put others in categories. Stop and think about how your bias could have occurred, and ask yourself why you’re holding onto it. Once you’ve identified the problem, start challenging yourself to meet new people from different backgrounds and simply observe and listen. There’s nothing better to temper biases than actually talking with people and celebrating your differences. It may seem awkward at first, but in reality, we all have certain leanings, and can afford to open ourselves to new ideas.
Shedding your biases at the door requires effort. Create mentoring programs between all levels of your organization, from leadership to managers to interns to introduce the idea of inclusion. An easy way to facilitate conversation between employees of your organization is through chat events, where employees of different backgrounds can have informal, private conversations about problems they may be facing. That way, different members of your organization are exposed to the different perspectives of their coworkers on a comprehensive platform.