Today is International Women’s Day, a global day that encourages us to take a minute and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, and raises the question: How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?
For leaders, this question is vitally important. You have the potential to take actions every day that encourage equality and diversity in the workplace.
“Everyone benefits from more diverse, balanced perspectives, and the workplace is perhaps the most critical venue for change to be made,” said Stacey Engle, President of Fierce Conversations. “There are efforts company leaders can take today that can truly make an impact in creating more balance in their organization. Not only will this create more opportunities for diverse perspectives to be shared, but it will lead to better company culture, and ultimately increases to the bottom line.”
Here are four ways you can foster diversity and build a stronger, more balanced workforce:
Rethink Who You Invite to the Table
Consider including individuals from different departments, and at different levels within the organization to your meetings. Sure, this won’t always be appropriate and will depend on the agenda, but by expanding who you involve, you’ll get fresh ideas while providing opportunities for others to shine. By thinking outside of the box in this way you’re also demonstrating that everyone at the organization has opinions and ideas that matter, and you are open to hearing them. The bonus? You will make better decisions.
Encourage Employees to Share Their Ideas … and Then Listen to Them
We don’t know what people are thinking, unless they tell us. Doing so in an open and honest way is easier said than done. Whether in a team meeting or 1:1 setting, make sure you ask for people’s ideas and feedback directly. Everyone should provide their thoughts on decisions being made. There’s no better way to convince people you care about their opinion than by asking for it and then truly being present and listening to what they have to say.
Check Your Bias at The Door
The metaphorical phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” has endured as long as it has for a reason. It speaks the truth, and it resonates with people. In this sense, it is incredibly important to remember that employees shouldn’t be judged by the generation they represent, the religion they practice or don’t practice, the gender they identify as, or the socioeconomic status they were raised in. Building a work environment where diversity of thought is valued begins with the commitment to enter into conversations without making assumptions.
Practice Inclusion without Illusion
Don’t implement inclusion initiatives for the sake of best practices, without being willing to do the work. Your employees will know when you are simply checking off a box versus when you are genuinely interested in new ideas and processes. Keep in mind that everyone is moving in a direction toward a common goal within your organizations, and when everyone contributes their perspective to this goal, you can get there more efficiently, more effectively, and more successfully.