5 ways to… celebrate difference

How to create a culture of inclusion

This year’s Black History Month coincides with 100 years since women got the vote in the United Kingdom. As society champions diversity, organisations are under more pressure than ever to provide an inclusive culture. Those that do will reap the rewards.

  1. Acknowledge the similarity bias. Humans are predisposed to be drawn towards those who are similar and wary of those who differ – not just in obvious characteristics such as age, race or gender, but in smaller, subtle ways such as upbringing, accent or dress sense. Recognising this natural bias in the workplace is the first step towards overcoming it.
  2. Pop the filter bubble. One result of our preference for similarity is that we inadvertently filter out information and opinions that differ from our own. Encourage people to broaden their view by actively seeking out opposing views – you’ll see decision-making and creativity soar.
  3. Make it OK to speak up. A ‘psychologically safe’ workplace is one where everyone feels free to express themselves. Encourage and reward asking questions, suggesting ideas, giving feedback and reporting mistakes without fear of repercussions, to cultivate a culture where everyone will give it their all.
  4. Keep your door half open. Psychological safety is built in the everyday interactions you have with your team. Make people feel valued by responding positively and proactively to every request. Be available – both physically and psychologically – no matter what your mood or workload.
  5. Identify your triggers. We’re all human, and we all have characteristics we react negatively to – whether someone’s preference for hierarchy, or their tendency to interrupt. By identifying what sets us off and learning to control it, we can create an environment where everyone feels safe to be their true selves.
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