How do we create an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace where there are a lot of diversity?

Show: The Tailored Experience- CapricornFM

Presenter: Hlekani Shikwambana

Topic:  Diversity in the workplace

Background:

We all have different religions and traditional practices among other things that make us unique. But when it comes to the workplace this can be a problem, especially if there is a religion or certain practice that is seen as superior or is misunderstood. Recently there was a lady that was ill-treated for wearing her traditional bracelet, which  is made from animal skin. Given that there are always a lot of different people , should we all not just allow each other to respectfully do what we do without any judgement or segregation. But also where do we draw the line?

Hopefully Karina Bognon, Director & Career Performance Coach at Exceptional People Consulting & Training may be able to advice accordingly.

Questions:

  1. How do we create an atmosphere of inclusivity in the workplace where there are a lot of diversity?

Have a ENDURING /resilient / indestructible ….Company culture – which translates to a strong “tribe” –  that has it’s very own identity – so NOT one that is identified with being  either a Buddhist /Muslin/ Monk/ Black / White / Jewish / Christian or Coloured etc… Having a strong company culture design. Part of what I do is consult on this …culture design  – helping companies with creating their company culture- Please Remember this …to all listening, YOU, and each one of us creates culture with our attitude and behaviour. 

So…. By HAVING DIVERSITY and how do we do that? My favourite 3 words at the moment… ARE… Mix it up! Yes MIX IT UP!!  Being strategic about it – Personally for nearly 20 years I have only ever worked in a mixed group of people, and this is what I find creates that secret receipt  / or sauce … of success in these organisations.  The world has become a global village, so those that are not mixing it up will struggle. Therefore mix it up and have a strong company culture.

But in the end it has to come from the top, from leadership and management. Remembering WE ALL create that atmosphere / culture.

2. But where do we draw the line when observing our traditional or religious practices  in a working environment?

Never impose your believes on someone else –  that is not fair  – and honour your own believes. Every single individual is responsible to keep the company culture – If all are truly aligned and leadership is consistent and fair!

It would be advisable for any company trying to avoid conflict to ensure that parts of it’s company culture is encouraging that both politics and religion to remain private issues. In the same way people should not be discussing their sexual practices in the work place  – politics and religion should join that private aspect of their lives.  Your political and religious bias should be private in a working environment just like your sexual practice. 

Bottom line the workplace is not a discussion forum  – it is the workplace – focus on the tasks at hand – ie your job. 

3. How does the employer strike a balance between the diversity in the office?

Make Respect a key value in the company culture. Learning to embrace and celebrate our differences is one strategy, an eg of a fun thing to do monthly is eating a traditional meal of each culture, food always brings people together, people can learn the traditions – this way you create a culture of what I call: “CU” curiosity and understanding, with learning to embrace our  differences.. 

Learning to focus on the similarities rather than on the differences is a far greater and is a  winning and productive approach. Focus on what unites and stop focusing on what separates. 

In the end everyone wants to: be loved, valued, cared, seen, heard and appreciated.

4. The corporate culture or company culture is important, however what happens in a case where certain elements of it offend certain members, what would advice be done?

Maintain Communication and dialogue – listen and modify. And educate. What will offend? When Entering a subjective aspect, people need to be educated – through open dialogue and communication. Making people understand that what offends them, is their own bias. Bottom line is ….people who respect and love unconditionally will not get offended. 

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