Six Ways To Encourage Leaders To Better Embrace Diversity

Diversity is good for business. You’ve probably heard this dozens of times, especially as more companies move toward building teams that include people with a variety of backgrounds, skills and experiences.

But simply hiring for diversity won’t automatically help you reap the benefits. If you truly want to make your business to promote and encourage diverse perspectives, the leadership team must set the example and embrace inclusion in everything they do.

So what kinds of approaches work? To find out more, we asked members of Forbes Coaches Council for their advice on how to help company leaders better embrace diversity. Here’s what they advise leaders think about:

Members discuss a few ways you can encourage leaders to more fully embrace diversity.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Think Beyond Demographic Diversity

Embracing diversity is not just about ethnicity or sexuality. It’s about different backgrounds and multiple thinking styles contributing to the best, most well-rounded solution. – Rob Edwards, Molding Business Group

2. Celebrate Behaviors That Promote Diversity

Behavior that is recognized gets repeated, so the key is to celebrate desired behavior as soon as you see it. For leaders to embrace diversity, they have to see it from their own leader, believe in its benefits, be equipped to succeed and be held accountable for their results. – Sheryl Lyons, Culture Spark, LLC

3. Examine And Challenge Your Beliefs

To embrace diZzversity, leaders must be intentional in examining and challenging their beliefs around the issue of diversity. As I continue to work with people from various countries, I’ve learned to seek understanding before attempting to be understood. Using a simple filter system to challenge my perceptions is tremendously valuable. Ask yourself, is my perception a stereotype, fact or bias? – Edward Reed, John Maxwell Team

4. Work On Building Empathy

Building empathy is a powerful exercise to internalize and embrace complex issues that are related to society. I would advise leaders to spend time in diverse communities to experience and feel the differences that set us apart but also discover the things that unite us. This empathy will enable leaders to genuinely embrace diversity in a sustainable way. – Guliz Kavuncuoglu, The Green Room Collective INC

5. Explain The Negative Impact Of Unconscious Bias

An effective way to encourage leaders to embrace diversity is to first educate them on the negative impact that unconscious biases have on our perception and expectation of others’ abilities. This may help leaders recognize how they may be limiting their access to the best talent when they do not embrace diversity. – Patrick Veroneau, Emery Leadership Group

6. Practice Inclusive Conversations

It is important to practice inclusive conversations. Leaders need a language for the articulation of these complex issues. The most recent research I have worked with shows a high correlation with empathy and recognition of unconscious bias. – Felice Tilin, Groupworks Consulting LLC

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