New Dimension Of Change: Diversity And Inclusivity In The Workplace

It is no secret that change is unavoidable and a part of our daily life. When we consider it theoretically and need to answer the question if we consider it a good thing, we mostly agree that change is necessary–things need to change, and certain ways of thinking or doing are “done with.” However, this is only one side of the story. If we formulate the question in this way: “Who wants to change?” the answer differs greatly. When we realize that change cannot happen if we don’t change, we are not so eager and ready for change.

How We Deal With Change

One of the key aspects of change is diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The goal is to create an environment in which all, no matter their personality traits, feel accepted and have equal opportunities. However, accepting our differences is not always easy, especially when we have to face our unconscious biases and prejudice.

Hiring employees from diverse backgrounds is our “new normal.” Like everything else, this, too, has two sides. On the one hand, new employees mostly find their footing, are hardworking, and try to assimilate. On the other hand, misunderstandings, different ways of thinking. and language barriers between the workforce lead to tension and unstable relationships. This situation has also opened some old wounds. Issues like lack of quality teamwork, not accepting our differences, differences in opinion and points of view, and many others were present. These issues are reflected in the intergenerational gaps, where one must also find common ground to work and communicate. In the context of change, emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication skills are our key tools and “helpers”, so worth investing our time and effort in.

Why Is Change Challenging?

Comfort In The Familiar

We tend to seek security and stability, the feeling of comfort and familiarity, to preserve our routine and stay in our comfort zone.

Fear Of The Unknown

Change often brings the unknown, which can cause feelings of insecurity and fear.

Loss Of Control

Change often brings loss of control over a situation which causes us to feel helpless and frustrated.

Lack Of Information Or Support

Lack of clear information or support makes the process of adjusting to change even harder, and the lack of communication or understanding can enhance the feeling of insecurity.

Habits And Behavior Patterns

The tendency to be set in our ways and behavior patterns complicates the accepting new ways of working or living–and those inevitably come with change.

Emotional Reactions

Change can cause us to react emotionally, with anger, sadness, anxiety, and similar emotions making the process of adjusting to change more difficult.

Lack Of Confidence

Fear of failure and the lack of confidence, skills, or preparation increase the resistance to change.

How To Use Diversity And Inclusivity In The Workplace To Speed Up Positive Change

It goes without saying, burying our heads in the sand and waiting for a situation to resolve itself is not the solution. The first step is admitting the existence of the problem and searching for a solution. This process is twofold; firstly, it is important to raise awareness of the importance of inclusivity in the workplace and enhance cooperation, and secondly, help everyone to fit in. Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is a topic all employees should be educated on so that the whole company can start to think about the positive changes that need to be implemented.

However, just reading through the rules is not enough, and surely you don’t want your employees to have a feeling of being pressured into something, or to think that the company is just going through the motions. The rules can’t be applied if we don’t talk about them and give employees a real purpose by sharing our opinions and experiences. To support this, it is recommended to organize educational workshops on topics like emotional intelligence and becoming aware of unconscious biases.

Our brains are constantly being bombarded by a ton of information, so they use shortcuts to keep the speed of processing that information at the necessary level. To make sense of it all, information is stored onto “shelves.” This combination, however, makes the brain make mistakes. We judge and “process” people in a similar way–we tend to categorize them based on preconceived notions, stereotypes, and our personal experience. We can never be fully free of these, that is clear, since we go through our life mostly on “autopilot.” That is why the goal of education on uncovering unconscious bias is to help us become aware of our biases and choose a wiser way of communicating and behaving. It is also important to spend some time talking about change management–we have to learn what happens to us, our team, and colleagues in the process of change in order to make it easier.

More and more workplaces are becoming multicultural and multiethnic environments and the goal is to facilitate employee assimilation into the company culture. Of course, interculturality comes with challenges, but think of all the learning and growing opportunities! Accepting a diverse workforce and their differences requires an open mind and readiness to change.

Furthermore, supporting them in the assimilation process is key to their successful integration into the company. Fundamental in this is communicating in the same language, as this eases communication and decreases the number of misunderstandings. Employees become more successful in communicating with colleagues, superiors, clients, and customers and their professional development is sped up. When employees are confident in their language skills, their self-confidence is raised–both in their professional and personal capacity, resulting in them becoming more active and proactive in various situations. The overall effect is very positive and beneficial–to them, their team, and the whole company.

What You Gain By Approaching Change And Inclusivity In The Right Way

Of course, we can’t skip the “what’s in it for me part of this equation” 😊. The right approach to change and inclusivity brings a myriad of benefits for the company. We’ll list just a few of the key advantages:

  • Improved communication and cooperation
    Becoming aware of their colleges’ background, different cultures, and behaviors enables employees to feel more comfortable in contact with different cultures. Knowing the same language allows employees to get better feedback from clients and customers.
  • Improved team cooperation
    Different perspectives and experiences create teams who together reach diverse, more creative solutions.
  • Raising cultural sensitivity awareness
    Employees gain more sensitivity to cultural differences and develop their ability to adjust and understand.
  • Improved integration of new employees
    New employees fit in easier thanks to the support and resources gained.
  • Decrease of prejudice
    Education about diversity and inclusivity helps decrease bias and stereotyping between employees.
  • Improved work environment
    The daily work atmosphere is more positive, and employees feel like they belong with the company.
  • Increase in productivity
    Better communication, cooperation, and work atmosphere results in increased productivity of teams and individuals.
  • Strengthening of corporate culture
    Focus on diversity and inclusivity becomes a key part of corporate culture, bettering the company’s reputation both internally and externally
  • Increased employee loyalty
    Employees gain more trust in the company which shows it cares about their well-being and encourages diversity and inclusivity–resulting in more loyalty and engagement.

We are sure the benefits listed above will motivate you to take action! 😊 Find your formula for success and combine the recommended ingredients with care to achieve your goals and realize positive change with ease.

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