Handling the Misconceptions of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Part 2 of the following question asked of me when I presented a discussion on Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion to Increase Profits, for a group of middle market company leaders, hosted by Brandt Handley of Resource Options International, Inc. (ROI).

“So, it sounds like a focus on diversity should be an organization-wide “way of life” but how do you go about implementing this focus on diversity and inclusion without falling into the trap or pitfalls of the areas of misconception you mentioned?”

How can you overcome the misconceptions and get folks on board to integrate a diversity and inclusion mission into the fabric of your company, making it a way of life:

  1. Tackle the tough questions, biases and misconceptions head on:
    • The leadership team should first have a facilitated and structured roundtable amongst themselves addressing any and all perceptions, biases, concerns, opportunities and more, they have as a team. This should be led and faciliated by an outside facilitator who can manage, focus and drive out the talking points.
    • CEO’s can hold a town hall meeting with staff, C-Level and Managers can hold focus groups within their teams to address issues, or an outside facilitator can lead such discussions to ensure transparency and disclosure of issues.
  2. The leaders of the company should receive the first training on D & I to ensure their understanding of it and how it ties to the mission, values and goals for the company; addressing any disconnects or misalignments before moving forward.
    • This education will inform the leaders, who will then model the desired behavior and practices, about what D&I is and isn’t, i.e. it’s not only about age, gender, even quotas, it isn’t about lowering the bar of talent to be advanced or hired, and those diverse hires or advancements are not due to quotas or charity; they are earned and qualified for the roles.
  3. The leadership team with all or a representation of the company staff, should work collaboratively to then put a company-wide strategy, mission, end goals and execution plan in place, across all functions of the organization.
    • We will discuss the planning that needs to take place in future posts.
  4. Communication is key. It needs to be candid, direct, open, collaborative, transparent and SAFE for any member of the organization to voice her or his questions, concerns, biases and misconceptions.
    • Overcoming misconceptions and misunderstandings will not happen from a single discussion. It has to be built into the ‘way of life’ of the company so an individual, team or group can have their voices heard regarding any situation or issue that impacts the effectiveness, productivity and satisfaction of the staff.
  5. The misconception that diversity can succeed without inclusion can cause any attempt, let alone a strategic imperative, to FAIL fast. It’s one thing to recognize that each of your employees are unique, but without including, hearing, respecting, and supporting them as individuals and a team, then you won’t achieve the optimization of productivity, effectiveness, retention and overall satisfaction you want from your people.

If you want to learn more, DOWNLOAD the full webinar presentation, How to Leverage Diversity and Inclusion to Increase Profits, hosted by Brandt Handley of Resource Options International, Inc.   You can then email me directly for a soft copy of the full presentation materials at BernadetteBoas@BallofFireInc.com. Feel free to share with your friends.


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