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4 Steps to Enhance Workplace Diversity

Ryan Buchanan, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member and former president of the Portland chapter, is the founder and CEO of Thesis, a digital marketing agency, and co-founder of Emerging Leaders, a non-profit dedicated to improving racial and cultural diversity at the leadership level in Portland-area companies. He also hosts the podcast Faces of Marketing. We asked Ryan about best practices for building a diverse, inclusive workforce. Here’s what he shared:

Dozens of CEOs and human resources executives who I’ve talked to this year are sincerely focused on diversifying their company’s workforce–but in most cases, their strategies aren’t working. They are exasperated, bewildered and ready to throw in the towel. Several have shared that, “We put our job postings everywhere we can find, yet all the applicants are white or male or both.”

I listen to each reason why recruiting diverse employees seems unattainable, and then I pose the question that was asked of me four years ago when I began my equity journey: “When professionals of color or women go online to look at your company’s senior leadership team, what do they see?”

It seems counterintuitive and time-consuming to start from within–to actively build inclusivity into the company culture before turning our focus to external recruiting. But it’s a more effective strategy for the long-term success of a high-functioning, equitable, diverse workforce.

The business case for diversity

Regardless, let’s examine the situation around race and equity. The business case has been proven repeatedly: Diverse teams perform up to 35% better than homogeneous ones. Diverse teams are more profitable, more adaptable to change, and the best brands in the world are demanding that their agencies represent the diverse consumers they serve.

Before reading any further, you should know that I’m a privileged, straight, white, male CEO writing an article about equity in the workplace. You can decide whether I’m a hypocrite who lacks awareness–or an ally and advocate for equity.

At our digital agency, we have plenty of work ahead of us to create a more inclusive workplace, but we’re making progress. We’ve grown from 12 percent people of color to 33 percent in just four years since becoming intentional about diversification.

What changes have we made? Well, there isn’t a quick fix when it comes to improving workplace diversity. It begins with changing the corporate culture.

Here are four steps for building a more diverse workforce:

1. Commitment from the top

If I had to single out the most crucial step along the journey to diversification, it’s that the entire leadership team must be deeply committed to racial equity, and willing to uphold these values with sometimes unpopular decisions. Change starts by talking about it. The transformation requires difficult conversations and embracing being uncomfortable–but the upside is a company culture that’s strong, deep and inclusive, and a business that thrives because its clients are getting the diverse talent they seek.

2. Make a point to talk about it, regularly

I grew up in a white society that taught us not to see the color of someone’s skin. But silence about race in dominant culture denies employees of color a safe space to share daily experiences where race is an ongoing factor.

When we openly–and privately–participate in conversations around race, it can lead to significant personal and professional growth, as well as business benefits. Ensure these conversations are happening by hosting company-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training or by bringing in a trained DEI consultant to facilitate recurring group conversations. Extending an invitation to the greater professional community could attract outside talent who share similar values around the importance of equity.

3. Build relationships with communities of color

You can’t identify new channels without building relationships with underrepresented groups. Be more intentional about your outreach to communities of color by attending networking events, partnering with culturally specific community organizations, or getting coffee with leaders of color. Many cities have organizations and initiatives dedicated to helping companies connect with resources and like-minded businesses that have made diversity and inclusion a priority, such as Partners in Diversity and TechTown Diversity Pledge in Portland.

Involvement with local leaders and organizations like these is a stepping-stone to building fruitful relationships and connections.

4. Institute workplace programs

A study by the Kapor Center examined why tech workers leave high-paying jobs. It found unfairness was the primary driver of turnover, with underrepresented men being the most likely to leave due to unfair treatment. Still, many companies think their job is done once employees are in the door.

But retention is an ongoing challenge that reinforces the need to make complete corporate culture shifts. When I asked one of our employees why he chose to work here and, more importantly, why he stays, he said: “Seeing other employees of color who are excellent at what they do professionally, while being fully themselves, without having to code-switch–I’ve never felt that at any other company.”

Mentoring programs can also be critical to leadership development, helping to identify rising leaders of color while providing them with valuable support and feedback.

These are just a few of the actions we’ve taken so far, but there’s still much to do. Making sure these changes stick will require an ongoing commitment from the top-down, but it’s an investment that’s well worth it for both our business and employees, now and in the long run.

By:  Entrepreneurs’ Organization

Source: 4 Steps to Enhance Workplace Diversity

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Arwa Mahdawi on “The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity” at TEDxHamburg (http://www.tedxhamburg.de) Arwa Mahdawi is the founder and Chief Minority Officer of rentaminority.com, a revolutionary new service offering diversity on demand. The site has gained worldwide attention and been covered by the likes of the BBC, Le Monde, the Huffington Post, NPR, and the Atlantic. Arwa is also a partner at cummins&partners, an independent creative agency with offices in Australia and New York. She is a regular speaker at advertising/tech/media conferences, so if you need a minority last minute, give her a call. Arwa is also a freelance writer and writes regularly for the Guardian on issues including marketing, technology, cryptocurrency, and lesbians. Frequent comments on her articles include “Was someone really paid to write this?” and “This comment was removed by a moderator.” This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

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The Power of Empathy in the Workplace

We’ve all had those moments of pure attention, when it seems everyone in the room is attracted to your energy. Yet for many of us, that place is difficult to tap into. Your mind races with nervousness about something previously said and you worry about what to say next, each distraction lessening the power of your interaction.

The key to success in these moments is empathy. This ability to understand and relate to others is a powerful skill that takes work, but in mastering it, you can better both your personal and professional interactions.

Related: Use these five elements of psychology to improve your writing.

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is about establishing trust by outwardly recognizing what someone else is experiencing. It’s difficult for people to fully engage in any interaction if they don’t feel that they are being heard and understood.

Think about how free and open your interactions are with close friends and family. Your conversations are super productive because you have each freed yourself to fully engage.

However, at work or in our other day-to-day interactions, we are naturally cautious. We withhold information, we don’t ask the tough questions, and it’s much harder to make decisions or resolve issues. That generally leads to subpar outcomes.

Four Steps for Practicing Empathy

1. Observe: Pay attention to voice, tone, body language, and the situation.
2. Listen: What feelings and emotions are being conveyed?
3. Interpret: What needs are behind those feelings and emotions?
4. Share: Openly state what you think you understand about the other person and ask for feedback to make sure you’re right.

Straightforward, right? Not exactly.

Why Listening is Scientifically a Struggle

Being a good empathizer is largely connected with being a good listener.

Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, explains that it’s a struggle to focus in attentive moments because listening is far from a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do, and empathetic listening can power some of the most fundamental functions of your workplace.

If you struggle with listening, you are not alone. Renowned author and journalist Michael Pollan examined this difficulty in his recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

Pollan found that a major area of the brain known as the default mode network (DMN), which acts as an overseer keeping brain operations in check, is most likely the very operator that makes active listening so difficult.

How the DMN Works

The DMN is what kicks in when you have nothing to do. And it seems to be responsible for the construction of what we call the self or ego. It’s all that noise that comes pouring in when you’re in idle; the flood of thoughts about the past and future and myriad distractions that we often feel powerless to overcome. It can become who we are. It also leads to rumination and self-referential thinking, which is not conducive to empathy.

The DMN is powerful, but you are not powerless to resist it. Attention, focus, and active listening help quiet the ego, allowing you more effective listening.

Try this: Consistent meditation, even just 10 minutes a day, has been shown to decrease activity in the DMN, which then leads to better empathy.

Practicing Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy in the workplace is something I encourage the team at D Custom to actively practice. Here are some of the things it can power.

Empathy and Negotiating

While Voss’ FBI negotiations might not be the first place your mind goes in wondering where and how empathy might be better understood and applied, it is paramount in their field. As he notes, when preparing for a negotiation, it’s more important to concentrate on demeanor and state of mind rather than what you will say or do. This is empathy in all its glory.

Empathy and Trust

Empathy establishes trust, and establishing trust enables more productive working relationships. By practicing empathy in the workplace, you will expose goals and concerns more readily. And you cannot resolve issues until that comes from both sides.

Implementing empathy to build trust starts with recognizing people’s fears and validating them without passing judgment or offering a solution. If you do that in a consistent way as a team member or leader, you will get all manner of engagement from your team.

Empathy and Creativity

Empathy is about a genuine connection, and active listening is a gateway to thoughtful collaboration. Ideas come to light in a creative environment, and an attentive approach helps increase input so much that possibilities expand in a way they would not have otherwise.

Empathy can be a force for powerful relationships. From persuading groups to negotiating with terrorists to growing a fruitful community of coworkers, empathy emerges as an imminent provider of success. It’s wired into our psychology to the point that we can’t resist it. So be present and empathy will follow. From that, the possibilities are boundless.

By Paul Buckley

Source: The Power of Empathy in the Workplace | D Custom

 

3 Ways To Maintain Your Integrity In Difficult Workplace Situations – Avery Blank

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The workplace is stressful, particularly when faced with a situation that tests your integrity. There can be pressure to carry out a manager’s directive. You want to perform well in your role, and you naturally feel like you should please the person who evaluates your performance. To remain true to yourself and maintain your self-respect, you have to be grounded. This sometimes may mean having a different view from your boss. But great managers respect employees who think independently, have the organization’s best interest in mind and respond with constructive solutions…..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/averyblank/2018/09/11/3-ways-to-maintain-your-integrity-in-difficult-workplace-situations/#44a85eb81a77

 

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