The Self-Awareness Guy

Diversity and Self-Awareness

Empathy and Diversity

Empathy and Diversity

One of the key skills that people building diversity programs can benefit from is empathy. This often-used but seldom-understood term is the underpinning of much of the practice of inclusion. It consists of a basic question, "What am I doing today to ensure that I fully understand how another person experiences the world?"

We have a limitless capability to understand others but it requires self-awareness and the ability to put our own experience of the world on the shelf, stand back and enjoy learning about other human beings. People run into challenges when they see diversity as a necessary evil and then proceed to ram their own ideas down each others' throats. Everyone stands around pontificating about how it should be but nobody stays still long enough to really get to know someone else.

Ask yourself the following questions next time you are building any kind of diversity initiative for your business, organization or in your life.

1. Do I fully understand what this person is thinking?

2. Have I removed myself completely from the equation?

3. How can I include the other person's beliefs/behaviors in my own life starting today?

4. What percentage of my time is spent listening to others?

5. What have I done today to boost inclusion and build diversity?

Diversity doesn't have to be a scary or foreboding concept. We can actually use it to become more open to ideas and can literally build a path toward innovation and greater collaboration. Those who practice these ideas benefit from moving beyond their own experience and harness the power of other people's experiences.


10 Real-World Examples of Diversity

10 Real-World Examples of Diversity

A lot of people ask me for examples of diversity, here are ten real-world ones:

  1. Different life experiences.
  2. Believing different things.
  3. Having different talents.
  4. People from different socio-economic backgrounds.
  5. People who look different from one another.
  6. Various educational levels.
  7. Different ages.
  8. Speaking different languages.
  9. Different genders.
  10. Different sexual orientations.

The key to thinking positively about diversity is to have the self-awareness to realize that, although not everyone is the same, each individual brings an exciting set of thoughts, life experiences, and talents to the table. When you add all these varied characteristics up and use them to build up your organization, you'll be stronger and have a larger pool of resources at your disposal.

The trap many people fall into is thinking that diversity is scary or will force them to change in some negative way. I like to think of diversity as all the amazing range of talents and perspectives people possess that can make an organization much more agile and dynamic. What examples of diversity would you add to the list?


Diversity Training: What is Diversity?

Diversity Training: What is Diversity?

Leaders and organizations are increasingly aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce.  Diversity is not just a buzzword that creates extra work for human resources departments, it is a tangible asset that can be used to benefit the organization.  First a brief definition of diversity. . I have worked with many companies to help them overcome the challenges diversity presents and each company defines diversity differently.  I don't believe in complicating things so I propose the following definition:

Workplace Diversity

The issues related to developing a workplace that is uniformly inclusive and encourages meaningful participation from all individuals in the organization regardless of background.

This brief definition gets rid of a lot of the noise related to diversity.  We tend to ask too many questions and stumble around issues like race, age, gender, disability and culture when all we really want to do is help our employees get along.

Proactive human resources departments understand the benefits of designing policies that draw from the talent pool and encourage productivity and innovation. Why would any company limit the potential of the employees unless it expressly wanted to limit its own success?

If you are in human resources or are a manager looking for ideas to increase inclusiveness then you might consider the following diversity-boosting ideas.

1. Hire based on qualifications required for a specific job.

2. Strive to create as varied a mix of people in your workplace as possible.

3. Ask your managers to actively identify people's talents and use them.

4. Encourage people to leave their preconceptions at the door.

5. Create opportunities for the growth and success of all your employees.

6. Set up an ongoing training program that helps individuals discuss diversity.

7. Create a comprehensive written strategy for increasing diversity in your workplace.

8. Practice these approaches over time.

Diversity is not a mystery and is easily incorporated into the culture of any organization.  It requires buy-in and commitment starting at the top.  The rewards are impressive.  Many companies report increased innovation, productivity, morale and team effectiveness when they implement a thoughtful plan to boost diversity.

Diversity is not a destabilizing force, it is an opportunity to harness the power of the many amazing talents of your workforce.  Those who understand this potential succeed at high levels.  What will you do to use diversity to help your organization thrive?



4 Key Ways to Build Diversity in Your Organization

4 Key Ways to Build Diversity in Your Organization

When I train leaders they frequently ask me how they can build diversity in their organizations.  Diversity really isn't some kind of life altering concept, it simply means having a wide range of people in organization.  Think of the following ideas as you work toward building diversity in your company.

Start at the Top

Commitment from the top is vital.  If the company leaders don't want a wide range of people working in the company this will be reflected.  More importantly, does the leadership want a variety of leaders running the company.  Look at your leadership.  If they represent a variety of backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, worldviews, gender and any other characteristics then you're on your way to becoming diverse.  If your leadership is quite homogeneous then you add some variety.

What Are Your Company's Values?

Is diversity a cherished value at your company?  Are people of all kinds of backgrounds able to progress at the same rate.  Does the company actively seek out ways to promote all kinds of people.  Identify your company values and you will tend to move in that direction.

Create a Diversity Plan

Conduct an assessment of what works and what needs improvement and then create a plan for how you will promote diversity.  It doesn't have to be overwhelmingly complex.  Start with a couple areas you would like to focus on and start building.

Commit to Doing It

Nothing stifles any diversity initiative than lack of will and perseverance.  Your employees will also not be thrilled if you begin to make changes and then drop them.  Once you commit to increasing diversity, stick with it until it becomes the new way of doing things.

The whole point of making diversity a priority in your company is to help people get along and work together well so that you all can thrive.  Thinking about these basic ideas will help you get the ball rolling.  What will you do to build diversity in your organization?



Diversity Is a Tool for Success

Diversity Is a Tool for Success

Diversity isn't as scary, controversial or apathy-generating as some people make it out to be.  It's actually a valuable tool that can be used by any savvy leader to build strong, cohesive and productive organizations.

I’ve noticed for quite some time that diversity training is viewed suspiciously by many leaders.  Perhaps this is because people have been subjected to diversity training that makes them feel badly about who they are and makes them think that something they’re doing is wrong.

I take a different approach to diversity that views it is a tool to help us succeed.  Diversity training can actually help us connect with others, create stronger teams and build companies where people work together toward a common goal.  There’s no emphasis on taking away people’s identities or making anyone more important than someone else.  We just focus on using each person’s amazing talents and abilities.

Think about diversity training as the opportunity to identify what each of your employees does well and then encourage them to do it.  You also benefit from many different and valuable ideas and perspectives that could easily be overlooked.  Imagine the power of having bright new minds available to solve problems or develop new processes or products.

Diversity gives us greater access to the resources and brain power our employees have to offer.  There’s no mystery to it.  Just as you possess certain abilities so do other people.  Bring all those abilities together and you’ve got the foundation for building a great organization.  You might also enjoy the benefits that come from employees that get along and support each other.  What would your workplace look like if you harnessed the power of diversity?