First we have to agree on what it means to be a champion. For the purpose of this article, a champion is a person who fights for or defends a cause - the cause of Diversity & Inclusion.
Next, we have to agree on what Diversity & Inclusion mean. Let's assume that the term Diversity, in this context, means respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. That is a challenge that mankind has been facing since time immemorial. So, nothing really more, or less, difficult than it has always been.
The critical part of Diversity & Inclusion is the Inclusion bit.
In practice, Inclusion implies a decision, usually made for you, to share resources - jobs, for example. It also implies living and working together, which may bring some undesirable side effects like:
- having to tolerate other people's costumes and beliefs
- having to accept that those other people may not tolerate your costumes and beliefs
When it comes to international politics, Diversity & Inclusion can get dangerously confusing. Handling Diversity may prove to be bad enough. But when it comes to Inclusion, things may get literally explosive. Therefore, the benefits of Inclusion remain alarmingly unclear to an increasing number of citizens in many countries.
We could refresh our memories as to what happened in 2015. At the time, the European migrant crisis began. Despite the good intentions and the alleged "morally correct" actions of many governments, accepting so many refugees gave rise to extremely dangerous right wing movements within the region. I believe we can safely agree that the European migrant crisis will continue to cast doubt on the future of the European Union for years to come.
So why should you consider becoming a Diversity & Inclusion champion?
When it comes to business, the benefits of Diversity & Inclusion are more tangible. Here are a few benefits and metrics.
We don't have to be best friends with co-workers who are that different from us. But we should be capable of working well together.
We should keep in mind that, working in a multicultural environment has been good for business in many levels for quite some time, particularly when it comes to creativity, openness and adaptability.
Being a Diversity & Inclusion champion has become a requirement for HR professionals in general and for HR leaders in particular.
Despite the benefits coming from Diversity and Inclusion, there are critical obstacles to overcome - many of them related to the HR member's personal preferences and biases. Recruiters may face personal dilemmas when it comes to hiring talents who require special attention in terms of Diversity & Inclusion.
Training and coaching those talents may prove to be an additional challenge. I have many years of experience in coaching IT sales teams in a multicultural environment, so I know how exactly what I am talking about.
What can HR professionals do to overcome their own biases regarding talents requiring special attention in terms of Diversity & Inclusion?
As a business trainer and coach, here is a list of what I suggest during my Diversity & Inclusion seminars:
- Don't neglect to acknowledge and accept your own feelings, personal preferences and biases toward those who are different from you.
- Make a decision. Ideally a decision to take a constructive path - a set of positive actions regarding your attitude. You may not have full control on how you feel, but you do have control over what you do, and how you do it.
- Be open to change your perspective towards those who are different from you. Remember that changes in your way of perceiving those who are different will not change overnight. But, dealing with different cultures with a constructive attitude may help you appreciate their ideas and even learn from them, in time.
Never forget that there will always be people trying to undermine your efforts regarding Diversity and Inclusion. Here is an unfortunate example I just saw in the news...
Are you ready to fight for Diversity and Inclusion?
Contact Sergio for more information about Diversity & Inclusion seminars and other coaching programs that can help your business meet its goals this year.