It’s hugely encouraging to see chief executives and business owners taking diversity and inclusion seriously. However, in some cases, the same enthusiasm doesn’t always filter down through the organisation. Here are some diversity and inclusion tips to help middle management.
A top-down approach might drive compliance, but not real dedication. To foster truly diverse and inclusive workplace environments, senior leaders, middle management and even new employees must understand their role in the company’s culture. Diversity and inclusion need to be top-down, bottom-up, and middle-out! So if you’re a people manager, try out the tips below.
Ask team members how they feel.
You might think everyone feels welcome at work – but in fact, they don’t, and sometimes the only way to find out is to ask people. Opportunity for these discussions might be during one on one catch-ups. Managers could ask team members questions such as: whether they feel their authentic self at work; whether they feel colleagues assume their strengths and weaknesses based on stereotypes; or whether they feel the only way they can succeed at work is to conform.
Give time and attention to team members who want to support diversity.
Managers’ failure to listen or express genuine interest in employees’ ideas about diversity and inclusion can cause team members to feel unsupported. If someone is making the effort to drive a diversity and inclusion initiative, take the time to listen and get behind it.
Listen to all complaints about bias or discrimination.
If a team member voices a complaint about bias or discrimination, don’t judge, listen carefully, and show genuine sympathy. Even if you think someone is being hypersensitive, its important to understand that it takes courage to bring up an uncomfortable issue with a manager. Show them that you care and take the appropriate action.
Don’t overlook the small stuff.
Even without someone voicing a complaint, if you witness someone saying or doing something inappropriate, don’t let it slide. Everyone in a room may laugh at a sexist joke, but that doesn’t make it appropriate workplace behaviour. Ignoring small stuff can send the wrong message. The slight awkwardness of dealing with it will be well worth the long-term benefits to the workplace atmosphere.
Look for diversity beyond skin colour and gender when hiring.
Diversity comes in so many different ways – ethnicity, gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, exceptionalities, language, sexual orientation, and geographical area. Then there’s a diversity of experiences, viewpoints, backgrounds, and life experiences. Its not just about the physical attributes you see.