Celebrate Differences: How to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are imperative.

The United States is steadily becoming a more diverse place.

Those considered minorities today may not be in the minority five or ten years from now.

Failing to recognize this shift can be a detriment to the growth of your organization.

Every improv troupe understands that you need many different talents onstage to create a great show.

If everyone tells the same kind of joke and has the same background, their stories and ideas will be very much the same, making for a boring improv show.

Now, it may be uncomfortable at times to improvise with someone very different from you – there will be surprises, and you may not always know how to react.

It’s the same at work. Having a plethora of viewpoints and talents to draw upon can only make your team better.

Here’s what you can do to ensure you’re placing a healthy emphasis on inclusion and diversity.

Diversity and inclusion are critical elements of improv and lead to the most innovative ideas. #improvtips

1. Understand what diversity is

In today’s world, the word “diversity” refers to much more than just race and gender.

It could mean:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Religious affiliation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Generation
  • Disability

Leading your organization in diversity and inclusion is all about one thing:

Understanding and celebrating the strength that results from having people from lots of different backgrounds in your workplace.

2. Know the numbers

When you broach the topic of inclusivity with the people in your organization, it’s helpful to have some facts to back you up.

For example, a recent study performed by Catalyst reported that “companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53%.”

Do you know your own company’s numbers to compare?

It’s also worth keeping in mind that a workplace that’s made up of 50% men and 50% women doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s diverse.

If you dig deeper, you may find that women make up 90% of the administrative roles and men make up 90% of the leadership roles.

Plus, gender is only one factor in a truly inclusive workplace.

3. Be an inclusive leader

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Of course, you’re striving to be a great manager of the team you work with.

But, in terms of diversity and inclusion, are you supporting the unique needs of your employees?

For example, you should be familiar with all of your organization’s leave policies so that when someone comes to you with a request for time off in celebration of a religious holiday, you’re able to be accommodating.

If the policies aren’t compatible with your employees’ needs, be an advocate for him or her.

Go to bat with HR or talk with the head honchos about how more flexibility could help your organization attract diverse candidates.

4. Consider being a mentor

If you’re a C-level employee or director in your company, you have a big influence.

You can use that influence to help someone who has a more junior role in the organization.

Try to mentor someone who isn’t the same race, gender, or from the same generation as you.

This is the best way to increase your understanding of what it’s like to work in your field coming from a different background.

5. Start a conversation

Numbers are great and go a long way in changing someone’s mind or attitude.

But a story is the best avenue for changing hearts and minds.

Talk to them about inclusion in the workplace.

Share the stories of your experiences and encourage them to do the same.

Create a narrative about what an office culture that supports diversity and inclusion will – and won’t – look like.

Start today

Diversity and inclusion are critical components of innovation, productivity and ultimately success.

You have an important role to play in the development of a workplace that celebrates each person’s unique background.

Start the conversation, take someone under your wing, and strive to be a great leader who is an example of the power of diversity and inclusion.

What’s the diversity I.Q. of your workplace? How can you be a positive influence?

Takeaway: Find someone who has a different background than you and start a conversation.

This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.