We are all aware of the Starbucks fiasco; over 800 stores are scheduled to shut down for unconscious bias training. While I commend actions being taken, I believe it’s a bandaid approach to solving an issue that takes more than one afternoon and a lot of well known people to plan and facilitate a training of this magnitude. Starbucks had the misfortune (or fortune - it’s all about perspective) of being in the spotlight for a short period of time, and they had to take immediate acton before sales plummeted even further, as a result. However, many more companies are facing the same kind of issues as Starbucks; they are just not getting amplified coverage for their actions.
I have been thinking about this issue rather extensively and wondering if the topic of diversity and inclusion is just that, a topic that sounds good in theory but has gone sour when it comes to planning and implementing an effective strategy. While we are headed in a positive direction and some companies have implemented a policy or process, are managers and employees really embracing the priority practices that come with understanding different perspectives? Implementation of a quality strategy takes commitment, time, and patience within all levels of an organization.
Some food for thought on how to take action below.
If you are in a management position or a part of a human resources team, here are three ways to get your company on the right track towards a corporate culture that embraces diversity and inclusion:
1. Create a safe space for dialogue to take place: Encourage staff to provide ideas and reassure them that their feedback is confidential and will be taken into consideration to further the D&I strategy.
2. Survey your employees: Conduct an anonymous survey to better understand employee perspectives on this issue. Ask them for ideas and do not assume you know what someone else is thinking.
3. Offer Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities: Enhance the knowledge base of your employees through articles, trainings, workshops, and lunch and learns to encourage dialogue and additional learning to gain different perspectives on diversity.
If you are an employee, here are three ways you can start impactful dialogue about diversity and inclusion within your company:
1. Believe in Yourself: First thing is first; realize you have a voice and a unique perspective to offer your company. If something is bothering you, speak to the appropriate representative within your company.
2. Start Thoughtful Dialogue: With a unique perspective comes responsibility. Turn your complaints into productive conversations by discussing a problem followed up with an idea or potential solution.
3. Limit the Gossiping: Gossip tends to manifest negativity, toxicity, and stagnation. If you hear colleagues complaining, choose to stay out of the conversation, or interject with a productive comment.
Keep in mind that these tips are not quick fixes; it takes time for change to happen. It’s just a part of how we operate as human beings. We all have to start somewhere.