MANY CULTURES, ONE TEAM
Embracing Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is essential for your small business because it increases productivity, promotes creativity, and develops a tight-knit culture within the workplace. As an advocate for workplace diversity, you are signaling to your employees and customers that you are open to a work environment that celebrates different perspectives and personalities that help to create a positive, open, and welcoming company based on mutual respect and understanding.
In my small business, our operations book, called the “Book of Kaizen,” dedicates an entire page to the slogan, “Many Cultures, One Team.” I am convinced that my business is richer because we’ve succeeded in combining the talents of many different people: persons of color, a diverse mix of cultural backgrounds, ex-military personnel, people with disabilities, millennials to retired seniors, gays, and lesbians. Applying and supporting this belief system and staying committed to hiring this culturally-rich group of employees has made my business what it is today – a business that is embraced and supported by the surrounding community.
Here are three tips that I have found are useful in promoting diversity in small businesses:
1. Stop and Suspend Judgement
Business owners sometimes hate to admit it, but most have built-in biases and stereotypes that are triggered when they venture into unfamiliar territory. They immediately shut down and pass judgement on people who are different. It is time to remove those filters and start entering into relationships with an open mind.
2. Listen and Learn
When you initially meet, take the time to earnestly converse with potential employees by asking pertinent questions. By this, I mean peeling back the onion into deeper layers versus just staying with the top layers of shallow conversation. Ask them about their life, cultural beliefs, and what’s important to them. You will be surprised how much you learn about their different perspectives.
3. Invite Employee Contributions
I believe that everyone has the capability of making positive contributions to our society. As a business owner, one of your responsibilities is to help everyone uncover the unique gifts that your employees didn’t realize they had. Help them to raise their self-esteem and watch how their personal lives blossom!
The people who ultimately grow through this process are you and the employees in your business. Diversity in the workplace can translate into diversity in your customer base. Our society is a melting pot of people with different backgrounds, so why not make all people feel comfortable doing business for you and with you?
Now that I have provided some of my thoughts about diversity, what are the kinds of things that you can do? Take a few moments and write down some steps that you can take to move towards cultural diversity in both your life and business: