On the 29th of May in 2018, Starbucks, a multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves, decided to downright close 8000 of its stores across the United States. CEO Kevin Johnson informed all employees that an imperative training session would be conducted after two black men were arrested for trespassing while they refused to leave the property. Even worse, one of the men was prohibited from using the bathroom as he had not purchased a single item. This shocking occurrence sparked controversy all over the country. Why aren’t staff members from multinational companies as big as Starbucks equipped to practice diversity and inclusion in workspaces? Why can’t we as citizens and employees accept people no matter their race, religion and skin type? At the end of the day, aren’t we all part of the same human race? Let’s take a look at how we can make our world
a better by enabling workplaces to introduce diversity and inclusion!
The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion
Before going into the practices of diversity and inclusion, it’s also important to understand why these concepts should be introduced into today’s workspaces.
- Greater Innovation and Creativity: Having a work environment comprising of employees from different background types, skill levels, and experiences will increase the capacity of the business in terms of creative ideas. This will help expand the business in the long run as more ideas will help the business grow further. Above all, employees will feel comfortable engaging and brainstorming ideas with their fellow workers as they share their thoughts in a diverse environment. This will consequently also help the business stand out from other businesses that only have one type of voice.
- Happier Employees: Working in an environment that encourages diversity and inclusivity will make employees feel welcomed, which will in turn, make them feel happier to be in their workspace. This will directly increase the quality of work as operating in a positive environment will motivate them to handle tasks better, thus allowing the business to thrive overall.
- Understanding Customers: Having a diverse and inclusive workforce will not only benefit the company internally but will also aid in recruiting potential customers. This will occur because employees could help in marketing to those from different backgrounds based on the reflection of those already working in the business. Additionally, people with similar backgrounds will be able to reach varied audiences.
Taking into consideration the numerous benefits of practicing diversity and inclusion, it’s safe to say that introducing these ideas in a workplace will not only help the business grow, but also increase employee motivation and help customers better connect to the venture. However, how can businesses in the modern era start practising these concepts?
Educate Managers About Inclusion at the Workplace
Managers of a company should be the frontline promoters of an inclusive workplace culture. However, in order to bring this change, managers need to be educated and trained in order for them to understand and support employees from all cultures, religions and races. Scheduling cultural training, diversity workshops, ending bias by educating each and every employee about acceptance would take everyone to one step forward to a more diverse and inclusive work culture. Also look at what changes could be implemented. Are people excluded from certain projects because of their religion or race? Are people glared at because of their sexual orientation? Allow managers to create an employee feedback system that they can assess to make relevant adjustments. It is crucial that each employee has a voice of their own to understand what is really going wrong in the workspace.
Allow employees to celebrate their cultures and traditions at work. Lunches to showcase their culture, days to celebrate communities (such as pride month, black history month etc.) and allowing everyone from different races and genders to talk equally are a few small gestures can be made to make a more diverse and inclusive workspace. Understanding that every employee carries a stigma from belonging to a specific community. Help them tell their stories and share their opinions, ideas, beliefs will also make them feel like they have a platform to present their voice to others.
Round Robin Meetings
Committee meetings are a great way to judge whether your workplace is actually as inclusive as you believe it to be. Are diverse employees afraid to speak up? Do both genders get an equal say while offering their opinions? Do a specific range of employees frequently get cut off? If the answer is yes to even one of these questions, it’s possible that your diverse workforce is not growing professionally. A good place to initiate change is by honouring all employees’ ideas through the Round Robin method where everyone speaks in a specific order for a specific amount of time. This strategy allows every employee to speak an equal amount without allowing others to cut them off, thus presenting hope for equality.
Tie Diversity and Inclusion to Everyday Conversations
The last but most pivotal step is to make sure that inclusion is made a daily ritual in one’s work life. The most superlative way to do so is to promote openness and sensitivity to diverse employees while recognising good behaviours. If you see an employee going out of their way to include and regard another employee, make sure to publicly appreciate their efforts to inspire others to do the same. While being open is the minimum one can do, recognising people who go out of the way to make diversity and inclusion come to life will make others understand that you value those who respect and make time to acknowledge those around them.
My Ideal Workplace
I am currently in the 10th grade and soon I’ll go to university, following which, I will get a job after I finish my degree. By then, I hope that the work environment evolves as compared to today. If I work abroad, I want to feel welcomed and included in meetings with my colleges and conversations with my fellow mates even though I may come from a different country. I want to wake up every day with a smile on my face and be motivated to get out of my bed to go to work. On the other hand, if I work in India, I want to see diversity and inclusion being practiced evidently to create a happy and safe atmosphere for both my employees and me. I want my employees to feel comfortable interacting with me, brainstorm with me, and share their opinion to make the work environment best possible for everyone around me to make the world a more positive place.
CEO’s, managers, employees, it is now in your hands to bring change to the workplace of today and help people from diverse cultures feel comfortable and included in the modern world. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine if you were the single mother breastfeeding her child and were being shamed for doing so. Imagine if you were the Muslim accountant who got mocked every day because of your culture. Imagine if you were the paralysed worker who was excluded from every meeting. Imagine if you were the only employee who did not know English and were deliberately excluded from daily conversations. Would you want to work in such an environment? Let’s reflect and change the mistakes we make today because after all, as Pat Wadors, Chief Officer at ServiceNow mentioned, “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation”.
Contributor: Parashie Sidhwani
About our Writing Program Student
Parashie Sidhwani is a Grade X student at Oberoi International School, Mumbai. She is greatly passionate about tennis, art, piano, and writing. Although she dreamt of being an astronaut at NASA, she wishes to pursue journalism or architecture in the future.