Diversity and Inclusion: Four Powerful Factors for a Successful Workplace
With a more diverse population, large companies and organizations should be just as diverse – and yet many aren’t. The majority of CEO positions and senior executive roles are filled by white men. Fortunately, many organizations are waking up to the realization that they need to be more diverse and inclusive.
A strong organizational culture with a focus on diversity and inclusion will result in a more successful workplace. Diverse companies are more innovative, engaged, collaborative, and perform better.
If you are looking to make improvements in this area, there are four powerful words you need to remember: emotional intelligence, empathy, clarity, and execute. Use these factors as guiding principles, and you will experience successful workplace diversity and inclusion.
Factor#1: Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is at the heart of workplace diversity and inclusion. Although the term has been around for decades, it was popularized by psychologist and writer Daniel Goleman. Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Those who have high levels of emotional intelligence have more control over their behavior, better relationships, and perform better in the workplace.
This creates a more harmonious workplace as employees are better able to understand one another and are more open to different perspectives, opinions, and experiences. Diversity can increase emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence can increase inclusivity. Daniel Goleman described it as follows, “when it comes to diversity, you’re seeing people who have a range of backgrounds, of understandings, and of abilities. And the more diverse team is going to be the one with the largest array of talents, and so it will be the one with the potential best performance.”
Diverse teams have higher emotional intelligence and perform better. This was proven in a study that compared diverse groups to homogenous teams. The results found that the diverse teams had higher emotional intelligence and were more willing to learn and therefore performed better. High emotional intelligence increases diversity and inclusion by:
Reducing unconscious bias
Unconscious bias is one of the biggest threats to diversity and inclusion. It can cause systemic issues and hostile behaviors resulting in a toxic working environment that is far from inclusive. Through self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills, emotional intelligence will mitigate this.
Relationships are strengthened through emotional intelligence, and when employees and managers have strong relationships and social skills, an inclusive culture can thrive.
Improves conflict resolution
Conflict in the workplace can happen – and it will, but how these conflicts are resolved will affect diversity and inclusion. Emotional intelligence improves conflict resolution. It allows leaders and team members to come up with win-win solutions, influence cooperation, settle disagreements amicably and gain trust.
A high level of emotional intelligence allows people to see co-workers, employees, managers, and team members as people first. It gives you an understanding and appreciation for different qualities and characteristics. Unique experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities each add value to the organization and, with a more diverse mix of individuals, will increase performance. High Emotional Intelligence is an essential key to a companies success.
Empathy allows you to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It helps you and everyone else at your organization understand what another person is going through. As a result, it can help people respect and demonstrate understanding when dealing with differences.
Several experts, psychologists, and researchers believe that in order to tackle systemic inequality and unconscious bias, empathy must be developed. This is a critical skill for everyone but especially important for leaders and people of influence. Those who make decisions, hire and promote must have a strong sense of empathy.
If a colleague or employee is upset or frustrated, an empathetic person will listen, ask questions and try to understand and support the person. According to Professor Theresa Wiseman, empathy has four key attributes:
1. Perspective-taking: This is seeing the situation through another person’s eyes.
2. Staying out of judgment: Listening to the other person without jumping to conclusions.
3. Recognizing the emotion: Identifying what another person is feeling and tapping into that feeling yourself.
4. Communication: Voicing your understanding and validating another’s emotions.
An empathetic organization will be respectful of diverse members and have relevant, inclusive supports and services. Further, empathy will remove barriers and obstacles and help design more supportive programs.
Just like every other skill, empathy can be developed and improved. Through training and practice, leaders and team members can become more empathetic. Although empathy alone won’t create successful workplace diversity and inclusion, it is a vital part that will strengthen and maintain your diversity and inclusion efforts.
For successful workplace diversity and inclusion, you need clarity. Clarity on what diversity and inclusion means, why it is important, where your organization stands now and where you need to be.
Although they are often used together, diversity and inclusion are independent terms. Diversity refers to the differences in races, ethnicities, religions, gender expressions, sexuality, family dynamic, physical abilities, cognitive abilities, learning styles, age, and language of your workforce. Your diversity score also includes the number of diverse individuals holding management and executive positions.
Having a diverse workforce is essential, but diverse individuals won’t stick around if your organization isn’t inclusive. Inclusivity refers to the work environment. To be inclusive means that all employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves and feel just as supported, heard, and respected as everyone else.
Use your human resource data and a diversity audit survey to determine how diverse your organization currently is. You should set targets to increase this every year. For example, how many POC hold senior leadership roles? If this was at 5%, aim to increase this to 20% or higher within the next two years. Your organization's diversity and inclusion goals will depend on your structure and model, but you should always be working to increase diversity.
What do you do now to create a more inclusive workplace? Are there different cultural events? Holidays for all religions or family needs? Health benefits for all employees? Get crystal clear on what efforts are in place now and improve them.
Clarity also refers to your transparency as an organization. Successful diverse, and inclusive workplaces are transparent and communicate with employees regularly. If you complete a diversity audit, share the results with everyone and let them know what initiatives you will be putting in place.
Many organizations have good intentions for diversity and inclusion but fall short on delivery.
Execution is arguably one of the most important words because if you aren’t executing any of the others, you won’t be successful.
Ideas and execution are two very different things. You need to take consistent action and execute your plans effectively. Often execution means resources. Too often, organizations hire a D&I specialist and expect them to change the organization overnight with little resources or authority. It just doesn’t happen like that.
With the death of George Floyd, many company’s released statements to their workforce saying they supported and stood with the Black community. Although these sentiments had good intentions, there was rarely any concrete action that followed up. Senior leadership must be held accountable and execute strategic plans to make the workplace more inclusive and diverse. Communications or haphazard attempts will be seen as disingenuous and can make any existing issues worse.
People drive change. A Harvard Law report state that the chair and CEO drive diversity and inclusion. After looking at nearly 60 large global companies who successfully fostered change, they discovered that the Chair and CEOs role in execution is necessary to be successful. Additionally, a diverse and inclusive boardroom with non-traditional backgrounds and diverse chairs will significantly influence the organization. According to Charles Gurassa, former Deputy Chairman of easy Jet, “If the diversity and inclusion topic is not on the chair’s agenda, then it is not a surprise when the organization fails to deliver”.
Your company should be a great workplace for all. Diversity and inclusion are so much more than a human resources checklist item. It’s crucial to an organization's success and the happiness of your employees. Remember these four factors as you focus on your company’s efforts, and you will experience successful diversity and inclusion.
Robert Moment is an experienced ICF Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author of the book, High Emotional Intelligence for Managers . He is a Certified Diversity and Inclusion Specialist.
Robert specializes in solving workplace problems in communication, management, leadership and employees using emotional intelligence coaching and training and diversity and inclusion training for sustainable success and guaranteed profitable results.
Name: Robert Moment
Robert is Certified to deliver The Social + Emotional Intelligence Profile-Self (SEIP) ® Assessment, the most comprehensive, scientifically validated, and statistically reliable instrument on the market and review the results with clients and create a comprehensive developmental action plan. This includes the self and 360-versions as well as workplace and adult editions.
Visit www.HighEmotionalIntelligence.com to Schedule Your FREE 30 minute Confidential Emotional Intelligence Audit for Your Company to discuss employee emotional mental health, performance and work culture success. Talk to a Certified Expert in Emotional Intelligence and Diversity and Inclusion.
Download the FREE Ebook titled, Emotional Intelligence and Empathy and take the FREE Confidential Emotional Intelligence Test and receive your EQ Score.
High Emotional Intelligence Online Training for First Time and Experience Managers
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