There is a significant amount of discussion these days on diversity in the workplace. In my humble opinion, it comes down to how each of us as individuals view one another and the value that each of us bring to the table. Valuing diversity is truly a matter of respect, but even more than that it is about supporting and nurturing a culture of acceptance and tolerance that truly paves the way and sets the tone for diversity in any workplace. 

I believe that the leadership in any organization today is influenced by the behaviors and actions of those at the top. When or if a culture of respect and acceptance is expressed by those who set the example for all, then your organizational culture will likely be characterized as a team of tolerant, respectful and encouraging leaders who move your company forward and into the future. You’ll do this with a strong and confident workforce that is driven by their passion for what they do and supported by your leaders with moral and ethic behaviors and actions which emphasize and support the new Company mission, vision, and culture of respect and engagement.

How do you make this diversity “leap” happen in your organization? Let me see…

1. Start with a clear vision, mission and cultural acceptance message of your intent. I don’t believe in policies–I think this effort should be borne out of honest, simple and clear discussions, with the goal of understanding why this effort is important and why it
has value.

2. Begin by having your top executive(s) and leaders talk to your management team about the changes in our society, in our neighborhoods and in our organizations as it relates to diversity and explain how diversity has value to the Company now and into
the future.

3. Start your training or introduction of these concepts with simple discussion of respect for other cultures, peoples, traditions and beliefs, and the potential that different perspectives can provide to the Company.

4. Ensure that your management team has a clear understanding of the intent and that they do not feel threatened or uncertain about next steps, development of their staff and their role in these processes.

5. Encourage participation and identification of strong leadership team members who will champion this effort and get the ball rolling on this new endeavor.

6. Begin a communication campaign and share the excitement and enthusiasm with your employees about what this process means to them and the organization.

7. Set fair and equitable parameters for participation and development of all employees regardless of race, age, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and so forth. 

8. Establish coaching and mentoring resources for those who need it and/or struggle with how to engage and participate as well as how to identify their strengths and areas to improve on.

9. Keep the momentum going by having regular progress meetings, communication pieces such as newsletters or websites and visible support and encouragement from the entire management team.

10. Celebrate the successes! Highlight the contributions, achievements and changes in business methods made by those who are engaged in and participating in your new diverse culture and improvement efforts. Hold recognition events that are small but meaningful–most individuals don’t want public recognition–they want most of all to be appreciated and to feel in on things, as a valued contributor.

Setting the tone for success with diversity is more about helping others than it is about being in the limelight. You have to embrace the importance of seeing others advance and succeed, and do so by knowing in your heart that you did all that you could do to help another human being succeed without needing to take the credit for it!

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to vegaslinda89129@yahoo.com. Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.