What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about diversity?

If you're like most people, you might think of characteristics like age, gender, race, or cultural background.

But when it comes to diverse workplaces, there's more to consider than just hiring people who fit into different age brackets or creating the perfect male to female ratio.

The business case for diversity at work is clear: greater productivity and innovation.

So, the question then evolves from “why do we need a diverse team?” to “how can we build a diverse team?”

Let's Talk About Challenges

If it was easy, all of our workplaces would be diverse and collaborative. But there are a lot of challenges that stand in the way.

Byte Author Uploaded Image So how can you overcome these challenges as a leader? 

Key Strategies To Manage Diversity

Diverse teams that are successful welcome and value folks of all different backgrounds. They prioritize making team members feel comfortable to contribute.

To achieve this as a manager, you can:

  • Create ongoing feedback systems

  • Pursue learning and development opportunities like unconscious bias, conflict mediation, and cross-cultural coaches

  • Focus on soft skills like emotional intelligence and self-awareness 

  • Practice empathy

  • Look for opportunities to learn more about different cultures

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Quiz

Dani wants to create a more inclusive team. Which of these would be a good approach for her to take?

Having "Courageous Conversations" Within Diverse Teams

Sometimes, we run into tense moments at work.

  • You hear a joke or comment that is disrespectful, or

  • You feel uncomfortable because of differences with a team member.

These tense moments are opportunities to initiate a courageous conversation to build understanding.

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In these situations:

  1. Manage your feelings. Acknowledge what comes up for you and collect your thoughts before starting the conversation.

  2. Use respectful phrases to start the dialogue like “I’d like to understand,” or “Do you have a minute to talk about that?” Then share what you’re feeling using "I" statements.

  3. Listen with curiosity to the other person’s point of view. Seek to understand their viewpoint, and see if you can find a way to reach a mutual understanding.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Summary

Which of these approaches makes sense for your team?

Focus on that area for the next 60 days. Hold yourself accountable by sharing your plan with a partner, friend, or colleague.

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This Byte has been authored by

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Sukriti Babbar

Applying design thinking at the heart of L&D