Adopting a culture of diversity and inclusion is a challenge at workplace; HR leaders have a comprehensivetoolkit in their hands: policies, internal research, specific written or spoken phraseology, trainingto employees, stakeholder groups, key performance indicators etc. But what about the beliefsof people and especially of leaders, who should talk and act accordingly? How about those who are feel"different"? Finally, who are they and why is it important to integrate and feel that they belong to the group?
Although the intentions are good, there is often an unconscious bias. It is said that in the first seconds of contact with a person,we have already made a series of judgments that affect us variously, e.g. as to the recruitment of a candidate,related expectations or performance evaluation and more. Sometimes, individuals may feel that thetheir diversity is a key selection criterion and they will find it difficult to feel that they belong to the group.Important key here is acceptance! Not so much acceptance of the other as much as the acceptance of our own ignorance aboutour unconscious biases. Accepting that we might have never been in a similar, uncomfortable position.
So, the phrase"I understand how you feel" has little value. On the other hand, by accepting that we do not know, we open ourselves to learningwhat the other person needs, using active listening. What is needed, so that ultimately, the values of diversity, of inclusion, of a sense of belonging,to have meaning.
In the business environment , where change is the new constant and unique competitive advantage is innovation, the "other" voice, the "other"culture, the "other" solution are the magic keys, that each "different" person bring. It is essential for businesses to create and possess culturethat encourages the “different”, without sticking to the similar image, similar opinions, similar voices of “cultural fits”. Since their competitive advantageis the innovation fuel, injected by the different people.
Eugenia AndroukakiProfessional Development Coach ACC-ICF