We are living in a technologically mediated world in which we are led to believe there is a “marketplace of ideas” where anyone’s views can be heard. But the economic realities of the marketplace mean that all too often only the loudest and most privileged voices are amplified and heard… As it turns out, the world we thought we were living in—the world of a variety of perspectives—is not the world we actually live in…In a world where identities have been commodified, we now see how deeply it can distort and pervert our perspectives and beliefs.
To get a sharper picture on society it’s important to increase diversity among our professional circles by thinking outside the box about who fits into our social groups. In particular, we network because of a need for convenience. Left to our own devices, we form networks that are, as professor Herminia Ibarra put it, “just like us,” in an effort to make life easier and more convenient than it would be otherwise.
- Diversify Your Networks
- Diversify Your Interests
- Cultivate Compassion, Understanding and Visibility
Here are 5 Steps you can take to achieve better diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversify Your Networks
The lack of diversity in our professional networks can lead to a workplace that favors those of similar backgrounds. When it comes time for recruitment, people tend to look to their professional networks and if these networks are homogenous, the result is favoring hires more like ourselves which means the pool is narrowed even further from diverse applicants. This can have detrimental effects on creating an inclusive environment, and can lead to missed opportunities where you might not be aware of someone great because their background differs so much from yours.
Diversify Your Interests
It’s not just friends and coworkers that make up our network of connections, it’s also the common interests we share. These shared interests act as a bridge to new friendships because they create an instant connection between like-minded individuals without any awkwardness or stilted conversation. It’s easy for people who have similar hobbies or interests to connect over their mutual love of something—without having much else in common at all! Common interest provides fertile ground from which meaningful relationships can grow outside your immediate life circumstances; it creates that spark of comfortability right off the bat.
Diversifying your interests will also help you avoid becoming blind to problems that might exist in your own field or industry—a chance to learn more, for instance, about the various problems that face women in business as opposed to what your male colleagues are told about them. It will also prevent you from feeling a sense of helplessness or powerlessness when faced with an issue that affects your community, your friends and family, or yourself.
A diverse pool of applicants is essential for any company looking to hire qualified employees, and a lack thereof can lead to biased decision-making processes that are not representative of the population they serve. In order to avoid this pitfall, be sure you reach out beyond traditional channels such as career fairs on campuses or job listings online while also tailoring these events specifically towards certain demographics like veterans or those with disabilities so that no one feels excluded.
While it takes time and patience, building a professional network across lines of difference can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Building these networks will allow for more opportunities to learn from others who come with perspectives that might not otherwise have been seen.
Work To Understand The Person Behind The Profile
You can’t really know someone until you understand their journey. Everyone has different goals and motivations, so it is important to get to know people before making assumptions about them based on some arbitrary criteria. Whether we are hiring at our company or referring talented candidates for opportunities, showing empathy towards others is crucial in creating a diverse workforce that values each individual’s unique perspective.
Consider the immense amount of compassion required to approach people who differ from you with the intent to understand. That requires you to show an open, empathetic heart, which is a scary thing to do if you don’t feel like you possess it. If we constantly hold negative stereotypes or view people negatively based on their origins or anything else that makes them appear “other,” we are doing them a disservice. We are contributing to a cycle of suffering and discontent. To combat these prejudices, seek to be mindful of how you show empathy toward people, to be sure to not assume that every person is motivated by the same ideals or has the same motivations for their endeavors. People’s value is truly based on who they are and not where they come from.
There is an alternative view of diversity that acknowledges that our differences aren’t divisive but rather bring out the best in us. Recognizing that there is strength and value in diversity is the first step in having a more inclusive workforce and ultimately a healthier, more successful business.