Celebrating diversity in the workplace isn’t just honoring heritage months. It’s about being committed to diversity, regardless of special holidays and events.
Luckily as an employee, you don’t have to solely rely on your company or leadership to improve your workplace. Here are three easy ways you can daily empower the perspectives of everyone and celebrate along the way.
1. Embrace different viewpoints
Celebrating diversity allows for the acceptance of ideas. Diversity in the workplace includes a diverse range of experiences and perspectives. As an employee, you can do your part by embracing different points of view.
Perspectives are how we individually see the world, and no view is the same. Our viewpoints or opinions are based on personal values, education, cultural backgrounds, life experiences, mindset, assumptions and many other factors.
There is no single reality. Because of this, multiple truths can exist depending on who you talk to. This is the very reason why diversity in the workplace is critical. Diversity of thought is the act of receiving complete understanding, not one vantage point. And without diversity of thought, innovation in the workplace is thwarted.
How to embrace different opinions:
Welcome perspectives: As human beings, we all have the ability to take in perspectives. Be open and try to elicit them to start the exchange process.
Seek to understand: If we’re genuinely welcoming other opinions or perspectives, you should be actively trying to understand others and the factors that make their perspectives. Express authentic curiosity to gain deeper insight into others’ way of thinking.
Learn and effect change: Take the time to learn something when exchanging ideas with others and ensure that you do something positive with the information you’ve gathered.
When employees work together to understand one another, they can create comprehensive, well-informed solutions with rich perspectives in mind.
2. Give feedback
Supporting diversity efforts in your organization doesn’t end with embracing ideas. They also include employees, like you, engaging in feedback. You might not believe it, but your company needs your viewpoint, too.
Employees can engage in feedback by participating in employee engagement surveys when they’re elicited. Be sure to respond to them as openly and honestly as possible. This is the time to tell your individual truth and be heard. Expressing your diversity of thought will allow your organization to see the whole picture with your vantage point included.
If you don’t have access to an employee engagement survey, you can find an internal advocate that you can confide in. Connecting with an advocate can give you the space you need to express your concerns safely. It can also provide insight into locating internal champions to assist you in your efforts or concerns.
3. Engage in an employee resource group
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary, identity-based communities formed by employees in an organization. While many ERGs have different calls to arms, most provide a safe environment where employees can connect and raise awareness about the issues that affect their community in the workplace and the world.
Some examples of ERGs communities include, but are not limited to:
Asian American and Pacific Islander
People with disabilities
If ERGs don’t exist at your workplace, you can always introduce the concept to your organization. It’ll take some upfront work and buy-in to get started, but it’ll be worth it. Employees in your company can meet and connect with new people, advocate for change, and share their culture and experiences. The end result would only create a more open work environment for all.
How to start an ERG:
Gather employee interest: Before starting an employee interest group, it’s essential to ensure interest to have an ERG made of your peers. After all, what’s an ERG without people? To gauge interest, try asking peers or using a medium within the company to elicit interest like a company newsletter, digital signage or corporate communications email.
Gain buy-in from leadership: If the interest is there for your ERG, the next step is to get buy-in from leadership. Buy-in is important to ensure you have permission to meet internally with others and that your ERG has the support it needs. Doing so may allow you to get a budget to operate your ERG. You may also have the opportunity to get an executive or senior leader’s advocacy to help you drive internal change.
Define your mission: What’s an ERG without a mission? Just a group. Be sure to clearly define a purpose for your ERG. It’ll keep your members focused and give everyone a shared sense of calling. To develop your mission statement, briefly explain who you are and why your group exists at work. Then, share it!
Recruit & get active: Participation in ERGs increases and declines over time within an organization for various factors. This is why recruitment is so vital to ERGs, especially to those who are just starting one or trying to maintain one. Make a point to actively recruit throughout the year. Your group should also be active in the workplace. Schedule meetings to stay in touch and plan activities to live out your mission.
Take these tips to keep diversity an active initiative within your company all year long. Your commitment, engagement and proactiveness will only make your company a better place for all.