Embracing and advancing the ideals of diversity and inclusivity in every organization is the sure approach to globalization and open mindedness. Not only does it bring the world to the organization, it makes the work environment accommodating to the needs of its people.
In a conversation with my supervisor and a group on the topic of inclusivity and diversity a few months ago, it became clear that knowledge of the ideal was quite limited. Many in the group thought of diversity and inclusivity only in terms of race. However, inclusion and diversity is an ideal that permeates various aspects of our society including gender, sexuality, race, cultures, nationalities, educational backgrounds and political ideology. Here at my workplace, I personally – both as a college student and now staff – adopted strategies that embrace and advance diversity and inclusivity and I hope to deploy similar tactics everywhere life take me. I outline these strategies below ;
In a highly multicultural environment as a college campus, it is impossible to walk the halls and not interact with individuals from different cultures and backgrounds. Taking the time to learn and familiarize – through travel and reading materials – with diverse backgrounds makes it a lot easier to work and interact with. Understanding different cultures reduces misunderstandings and improve overall communication.
- Ask questions
In an attempt to understand a task at work or school, I tend to ask questions. I believe no man is a living repository of knowledge and as such, seeking a different perspective or approach greatly enhances the depth of one’s knowledge but also fosters improved productivity and professional relationships.
In the spirit of treating others the way they want to be treated, I have learnt to respect and consider the boundaries and expectations of others. An activity I may be comfortable with may be in conflict with the values of a colleague or co-worker. Even commonplace interactions could have subtle cultural nuances to take into account. For instance, understanding how different cultures perceive a handshake, maintaining eye contact or the boundaries of personal space can help to avert misunderstandings. Being respectful of personal and cultural boundaries and encouraging colleagues to do the same will make the workplace more welcoming and productive for everyone.
The best way to embrace and advance diversity is by accepting our differences and working to build an understanding. Getting to know one’s colleagues on a personal level, regardless of their culture and background, will help us find common ground, deepen your appreciation of differences, and promote an inclusive, diverse and welcoming work environment.