The row about diversity at British Vogue has put the topic in the limelight, but “diverse teams perform better” is not the whole story. Individuality is only a virtue if we can express it – and 61% of us struggle to. For diversity to work, it must come with a culture of inclusion.
1. Find the common ground.
It’s human nature to be more drawn to those who are similar to us, and distrustful of those who are not. But we’re all alike in endless ways – inclusion starts when you seek out the similarities.
2. Pop your filter bubble.
Our attraction to similarity means we naturally filter some things (and people) in, and others out – no fun for those who are ‘out’. Make an effort to watch, read or listen to something new each week to keep your bubble open.
3. Make it ok to speak up.
High performing teams are those in which everyone, no matter what their place in the hierarchy, feels safe to share information. Encourage creativity and individuality by rewarding those who stick their necks out.
4. Keep your door open.
A ‘psychologically safe’ work environment is one where leaders are easily accessible – both physically and mentally. Remove the physical barriers that might prevent your team from communicating, and consider how you respond to their requests – do you welcome them equally, regardless of your mood?
5. Overcome your triggers.
We all have little bugbears that make us tune out, and it’s never as clear-cut as a demographic difference. Whether a turn of phrase or personality trait, identify what sets your teeth on edge and make a conscious effort to tune back in when you come across it.