Founded by immigrants, America flourishes with a diversified population. While culture clashes can cause division, most Americans agree that the ultimate goal for our nation is unity. Meeting that goal may be difficult, but every day we are making and measuring our progress.
By now, most businesses have anti-discrimination policies in place toward that end. The policies are so familiar that, along with the pledge of allegiance, many Americans can recite them by heart:
“We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation…”
It’s true – most businesses have these types of policies in place, and so many Americans have encountered these statements that we can all rattle off the list of attributes that are accepted where we work. But how many businesses are putting real effort into not just accepting, but building and celebrating a diversified workplace? How many teams are truly able to enjoy the benefits of working with a diversified group of people?
Diversified Workplace: How to Celebrate Differences as a Team
Diversify your portfolio.
In many ways, the workplace is a continuation of our school experience. When we first went to school, this was the first time that we interacted with people who weren’t members of our family, or close friends chosen by our family. In more ways than one, school provided us with a learning environment. Suddenly, every day, we were spending time with people from different families, different backgrounds, experiences and points of view. The same thing is happening when we go to work every day.
For business owners – When moving through the hiring process, take a look at the current makeup of your team. Does it skew one way or the other? Are there more men than women? Are there different races, ages and abilities represented? Do you feel that your team’s ideas are pulled from a wealth of varying experiences and points of view? Does your team have an earned cohesiveness, or are they all just so similar that it’s easy to agree?
For team members – Take a look around you! It can be so easy to hide away in your own corner of the workplace, find “your people,” and stay in your comfort zone. Kind of like cliques in high school. Celebrating diversity starts with seeing the people around you. You don’t have to be the best of friends, but seeing someone – really taking the time to listen and know them, goes a long way.
Don’t shy away.
Playing it on the safe side, most business have put “hush hush” policies in place right alongside their anti-discrimnation policies. This is understandable. Tense discussions are the reasons why many Americans dread rather than anticipate Thanksgiving dinner – and that’s family! Hey, we all know there’s more than one reason the turkey got tore up last year. And there’s more than one reason why all experts on good manners recommend avoiding two topics at the table: politics and religion.
Still, that leaves a lot open for debate! There are so many topics to explore with your coworkers that will unlock great tales of their particular culture – food, games, celebrations. While some of these topics may veer into the “no no” territories, as long as the discussion focuses on culture, and remains open-hearted and inquisitive rather than turning into an interrogation, exploring the fascinating range of human experience can be handled with grace and excitement.
For business owners – Give your employees opportunities to experience each other’s cultures and backgrounds. If your company is in the habit of having potlucks or parties, ask your employees to bring not just any dish, but a dish that is important to their family. You’re a lot less likely to end up with a boring casserole that way. Also, consider adding language to your dress code that encourages team members to dress in a way that is representative of their culture.
For team members – Be curious! Show interest in your coworker’s experiences. If a coworker brings up a trip to visit family or a place that is important to them, or participated in a certain activity, ask about it. Be sure to ask questions that let your coworker know that you are open and happy to hear about their background or point of view, even if it may be different from yours.
In order to celebrate diversity, everyone – from the CEO to the file clerk – must be willing to open up about something that can be very vulnerable to expose – our very identity, as well as our thoughts and feelings about that identity. This openness is crucial to celebrating a diversified workforce.
Part of this openness lies not just in being open about who we are, but being open about what diversity means. Diversity is diverse! Diversity can be counted in so many ways!
Consider that personality may be a part of diversity. Talents and strengths may be part of the diversity of your company. Diversity is found not just in the list we rattled off several paragraphs ago, but in the art we create, jokes we tell, the movies we like and the music that moves us.
For business owners: Open up your concept of diversity. Look closer at the shy employee, as well as the boisterous team member. Consider that these polar opposites are both necessary to hold your company together. Acknowledge and respect them both. Invite employees to express who they are in ways that create intrigue. Guess what! Intriguing employees make your business intriguing. Be brave on that, and reap the rewards.
For team members: Even if you have to start with baby steps, consider opening up and showing who you are at work. Maybe it starts with a funky little knick-knack on your desk. Maybe it starts with a shirt you wear. When others know you, than can appreciate you. Trust that you will be accepted, and return that acceptance to others.
With a diversified team in place, you are more poised than ever before to let your business take off! Once you start to truly celebrate diversity, you will see your business grow. As a business owner, you are in charge of establishing the attitude of your business – the attitude that your business has toward a diversified team, and the attitude that members of that diversified team have toward each other. We trust you to lead your incredible team, helping them come together in a way that shows that the best work is accomplished with a unified spirit. And you can trust PayWow to make sure they all stay paid! Your team is your team because they trust you. With payroll, tax compliance and time management all in place, PayWow is a solution that keeps that trust intact! Try us today!