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3 ways leaders can harness the power of diversity in the workplace

March 12, 2018
Diversity & Inclusion

There’s no denying the United States is becoming more diverse. The U.S. Census data shows that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country. But what does this mean for your business?

According to the Center for American Progress, increasing diversity will allow businesses to appeal to a more diverse customer base, recruit from a wider pool of qualified applicants, and foster more creativity and innovation by using the different qualifications, backgrounds, and experiences of their employees.

In her article, “Diversity and Inclusion Will Be Your Company’s Strength in 2018 and Beyond,” Diversity and Inclusion expert Risha Grant explains three ways you can use your company’s diversity to create a more successful business by making a better working environment.

1. Show your diversity.

Innovative ideas are born from different points of view. Grant suggests you can benefit the company by sharing your different knowledge and experience sets within the company.

In Grant’s case, she is an African American woman involved in the local black community and culture of Oklahoma. Her knowledge gives her an insight into the buying habits, likes and dislikes of African Americans, which could be used by a company to appeal to a wider customer base.

2. Be outspoken.

Differences will sometimes lead to tension in the workplace. You, or one of your colleagues, may feel marginalized by the company’s practices. To create a more comfortable work environment that benefits all employees, it’s important for you and your employees to be outspoken.

When tension happens, Grant says a leader must remember to “be fair, rational and outspoken about these issues” and step forward with a “well thought out solution to discuss with your HR Department.”

Your efforts will help marginalized employees to have a collective voice that would provide a more positive working environment. And positive working environments lead to higher company productivity and lower employee turnover.

3. Be open to diverse issues.

The best way to handle diversity and inclusion issues is to confront your own biases and engage in honest conversation. Talking about your diversity may be difficult for leaders and employees alike, but being open is the only way to reach a mutual understanding that benefits both.

Grant recounts a time when she had to be open with someone from the Mormon faith.

“This was during the time that Warren Jeffs, who was the leader of a particular sect of the Mormon Religion, was being investigated for a ton of alleged crimes. I walked into the office and made a joke about it. It was risky but because she knew who I was as a person, we were able to discuss her religion and I learned a lot about her faith. To this day, we still discuss many different issues of diversity with respect for each other and the issue itself.”

If you follow these ideas, you will have a more open, trusting, and comfortable working environment.

As Grant says, “It’s all about humanity, respect, and dignity. In its simplicity, it’s easy to see how creating a workforce and consumer base of a diverse and inclusive culture can also build your brand within new markets.”

By Ken Stirling

Source: Business2Community

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