Inclusivity and equality are not nice to haves anymore. Many companies have legal policies and practices in place to build solid foundations of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
If you’re serious about working in an inclusive and collaborative environment, you should dedicate a few minutes to discussing these policies and practices during onboarding. It’s up to you to cover your bases by asking hiring managers these questions about policies to promote diversity and inclusion:
Do you offer diversity training programs?
See if the company offers ongoing training about legal implications of diversity including discrimination and harassment. Constant communication about expectations helps employees build better relationships and a mutual respect.
What hiring policies do you have in place to ensure there is no discrimination against age, race, religion or ethnic background?
Ask about their Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. You want to work for a company that acknowledges your worth based on your experience, skills and knowledge, not your race, gender or ethnicity.
What about equal pay and compensation?
It goes without saying that every employee should receive compensation fairly based on their contribution.
Do you have policies that address bullying, harassment and discrimination?
We all deserve to work in an environment that is free from discrimination. This means knowing you can go into work everyday into a safe space and be respected.
It doesn’t matter if you are a new employee or have been at a company for a while. Asking these questions will demonstrate how important working for an inclusive, progressive organisation is to you.
Leverage your Differences and Collaborate with others
People with unique backgrounds and life experiences will come up with different kinds of ideas. The more variety, the better. You should acknowledge that your uniqueness is what sets you apart. Your own experiences can add value in problem solving and coming up with innovative and creative ideas.
This goes for your colleagues and team members too. You shouldn’t only tolerate but collaborate with others who may have differing and even opposing views to you. By embracing our differences, we can learn from others and collaborate in ways that may even lead to ground-breaking ideas.
There is a whole field of research dedicated to the collaboration of diverse people termed ‘cognitive diversity’. Studies confirm that combining individuals’ unique traits leads to better solutions and achievement of business goals.
By leveraging your own unique identity and experiences, and of others around you, every single employee will have the opportunity to realise their full potential.
Make Opportunities to Interact with your Diverse Coworkers
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people at work can make you feel comfortable. But after a while it becomes boring and you can handicap yourself from all of the wonderful and unique perspectives and ideas of those who are different from you.
Building relationships with others who are completely different creates a culture that nurtures new ways of thinking. Get to know others better and uncover their unique backgrounds by taking someone new to lunch or grabbing a coffee. If you feel your office lacks interaction between different groups or departments, create opportunities for diverse co-workers to interact.
We can’t rely on organisations to fulfil all of our needs as individuals. Some ways you could provide support to make everyone feel included is by starting advocacy groups and community programs. This will help unite people with common interests, give minority groups a voice and create interest among those who are unfamiliar and who want to know more.
It’s easy to forget that what sets us apart as individuals are our biggest assets and strengths. Leveraging our unique identities at work and collaborating with diverse groups of people should be important to every employee. We all want to work in an environment where we are valued for who we are as individuals. We also have enough research and data to show companies that diversity in the workplace is not just good for employee morale and comradery. Building a workforce of diverse individuals who feel valued for who they are is not only good for people, but even better for business.