Embracing D&I

“Everybody is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven”– Yiddish Proverb

The Desert Survival Challenge was a path breaking simulation run by the US Airforce during World War II. It is now a case study in many top business schools. The challenge involved groups of 20 cadets – theoretically victims of a plane-crash – being tasked to find their way to the nearest habitation some 70 miles away. More than 2000 real life simulations showed that groups where decision making was broad based, iterate the best survival strategies. Groups where only a handful of views dominated, usually made the worst decisions, often lost morale and were unable to reach their destination. None of us, is as smart as all of us.

The upside of diversity and inclusion is today much better appreciated in organizations worldwide. Clearly, interventions and policies that support and celebrate diversity are on the rise. Participation in Pride events, observing international days dedicated to certain diverse groups, specific organization-wide trainings to raise sensitivity and awareness, instituting non-discrimination policies and hiring targets for diverse talents are some of the ways in which organizations have begun taking this path.

And yet, these are just the beginning. For effective inclusion to take place, employees have to not only ‘see’ but also feel and experience inclusion in their daily lives.

How do we do this through a training intervention?

From our experience in working with diverse teams, we have a few insights:

Not a silver bullet: We need to stop treating diversity training as a silver bullet. It is one of the many tools in a D&I Manager’s armory. What it helps in is to make people aware of potential blind spots: unconscious favoritism, conformity, or silence in certain situations.
No need to churn the ocean: Helping people recognize biases towards one marginalized group of people can have positive spillover effects on their attitudes and behaviors towards other marginalized groups. Which means it is not mandatory for the training to be exhaustive and touch every single type of diversity within the team.
Shared identity and purpose helps: This doesn’t mean groupthink. It means having frequent conversations with team members – both one-on-one and in group settings - about what are the values that matter to each other – and why. This enables people to learn about and connect with one another. It is in this context that inclusive behaviors emerge. Diversity trainings need to enable this.
It needs to be felt: Inclusive leadership calls for the ability to recognize emotion, to understand what’s being felt and why, and to use emotion effectively. For example, a leader who can’t spot the emotional angst on an excluded employee’s face will not be able to change her behavior to make him feel more included. Diversity trainings need to bear this in mind.

A few key parameters:

Is this workshop right for my team?
The absence of diversity and inclusion has some very critical consequences for the organization:
⦁ Lack of new ideas
⦁ Disengagement, resentment and withdrawal in employees
⦁ Strained team relationships
⦁ Miscommunication and creation of barriers between team members
⦁ Extreme situations of litigation due to loss of faith in the organization

If you are looking at preparing your teams to truly appreciate inclusiveness and diversity, FocusU invites you to The Embracing D&I workshop today!

Contact Us today - we will be glad to meet up and discuss the possibilities for your team!