Looking to improve team cohesion, creativity, or morale? If you read our last article on the Key Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion Within Teams, you know that these are just some of the positive effects teams begin to experience when they focus on diversity and inclusion. Would you like to highlight diversity in your organization but don’t even know where to even begin? We are excited to share a few simple strategies that you can easily (and inexpensively) implement to cultivate a team that values diversity and inclusion!
Inclusion begins with respect. Refrain from offensive jokes that alienate others (even when they are not in the room). Always be considerate of the boundaries of others. An activity or statement that you may be comfortable with may conflict with the values of someone else. When in doubt, simply ask. If you accidentally offend someone, be sure to apologize.
- Educate yourself
As a leader of the diversity movement on your team, make it a priority to educate yourself first. A great starting point is to begin by taking the time to learn about the various races, religions, cultures and backgrounds that are represented by your current teammates. Expand on your new knowledge by researching their different cultural approaches to work and traditions.
- Understand the diversity that you personally bring to the team
Everyone brings unique experiences and viewpoints to the table. Take some time to reflect on your own background and acknowledge the diversity that you personally bring to the team. Keep in mind that diversity is not just limited to race and gender, but includes education levels, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and geographic location (among many others).
- Seek out new perspectives
Working on a new project? Incorporate a teammate and encourage them to share their ideas with you. People from different backgrounds take different approaches to problem solving. You will often find that your teammates have valuable insight to share that you would not have thought of on your own. Encourage creativity and collaboration on your team by seeking and being open to new ideas
- Create an inclusive calendar
One of the easiest inclusion strategies to implement is a culturally diverse holiday calendar. Sensitivity to your teammates holiday and religious practices is very important. Encourage the whole team to get involved and make it a point to acknowledge, celebrate (appropriately), and educate yourselves on the various religious and cultural holidays.
- When organized celebrations are not practical, small gestures or emails can be meaningful and appreciated by teammates.
- Avoid scheduling meetings or sending time-sensitive requests on holidays. It is also good practice to avoid scheduling lunches or celebrations that are food-focused during times of fasting.
- Get personal with teambuilding
Getting to know your teammates on a personal level will help you each understand and appreciate your differences. Promote a welcoming work environment focused on collaboration by dedicating time to teambuilding. Give your team the opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal level in a more relaxed setting.
- Develop a Top-Down Strategy
Encourage your organization to focus on diversity and inclusion at the highest level. Your company may be in the position to hire a top-level executive dedicated to diversity and inclusion. If that is not feasible, start by developing a set of behavioral standards and keep all leaders accountable to those standards. You will also want to ensure that there is diversity at the management level of your team. Start brainstorming ways to incorporate diversity into your organization’s overall training, performance management, and leadership evaluations.
Now that you have been introduced to a variety of simple strategies you can implement to cultivate a culture of diversity, I encourage you to pick one or two options to start implementing. Get the whole team involved and develop your personalized strategy. Once your strategy is set, stick to it and work together with your team to measure your progress. Soon enough, your team will begin to experience some of the many benefits diversity and inclusion have to offer!