What are a few key things that people can do in the workplace to foster the conversation of diversity?
Well first, I think people need to move past the idea that communication about diversity will automatically bring offense.
A lot of well-intended people think two misconceptions:
1) Diversity is only about race. It isn’t.
2) That talking about something makes it become a bigger issue. If we ignore diversity concerns or the fact that different groups of people are in the workplace and instead say things like, “I don’t see color” then is there no diversity issue? Of course not. Of course you see color. And, what you may not realize is that you probably just insulted that person of color because what they hear when you say “I don’t see color” is actually, “there is something shameful about your color, so I will ignore it so as not to draw attention to it.”
The key thing leaders can do is to not shy away from the conversation. Make sure diverse perspectives are represented when pulling teams of people together to work on a project. Talk to employees—all of your employees—about their work successes and challenges. Don’t just talk about project updates, ask how they are doing. Then ask “how are you doing really?” and then listen. Digging a little deeper into your employees lives will often uncover if there are diversity issues lurking within your company culture.
How do you help clients work to communicate effectively with a diverse staff or their clientele?
We help clients focus their work on competencies. All of the foundational work we do with a company when they are selecting employees is about establishing what core, transferrable skills and characteristics are needed for each role. When you work to scientifically define success rather than saying “I know it when I see it” you do a lot to remove biases about individuals.
Our executive coaching programs help leaders be more effective in general, and this means they’re more effective communicating with a diverse staff or clientele. We tailor our coaching to the leader’s needs, so if diversity awareness and skill building are the need, we go there.
In addition, we do training sessions for work teams on effective communication (in general and also with a diversity bent).
What are some other types of diversity issues that people often overlook?
We work a lot with organizations who struggle with ‘old vs new’ thinking. In today’s workplace, often the boss is younger than the newest employee. Companies need open communication between those cross-generational relationships just as much as race diversity. We were recently featured in a great article in U.S News about age diversity. Our consultants work really hard to identify every type of diversity in a company and find out how to make that diversity a strength.
Want to find out how we can help you bring true diversity to your office culture? Contact us today.