Author: Mary Rezek / Source: Entrepreneur In business, as in biology, strength lies in difference, not similarity. According to McKinsey,
In business, as in biology, strength lies in difference, not similarity. According to McKinsey, the most ethnically and gender-diverse companies outperform the least diverse. In today’s global workforce, it doesn’t take government policies to make us see that increased diversity is a strategic imperative for economic gain and growth.
While I believe in the concept of diversity, I don’t think it’s well understood globally because it is often associated with headcount quotas. I prefer the term “inclusion.” A company of distinct cultures and genders won’t activate those different viewpoints unless its leaders deliberately focus on including all of them.
Do you welcome alternative thoughts, ideas, constructs, education, logic and feelings at your company? Noticing how people perceive not just themselves but others is a pivotal first step to leading an inclusive workforce. Those impressions and judgments inform interactions, which will either spark collaboration or create distance. It’s on you to figure out how to integrate the differences, regardless of people’s backgrounds.
Inclusion is the new diversity.
By embracing complementary differences, you can enable more holistic, integrated and comprehensive solutions. As leader, it’s your job to create a culture that catalyzes more opportunities for inclusion.
Hiring people from different cultures and backgrounds is relatively easy; fostering inclusivity is much more difficult. Certainly, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But here are three good places to start.
1. Stop assuming your way is the right way.
According to a YouGov survey, 53 percent of Americans participating in the study said they considered the United States the greatest country on Earth. I see this over and over again in my coaching work outside the States: American expatriates overreaching to “fix” things, rather than merely sitting quietly, observing, as their first step to adjusting to a new geographical locale.
Take a client of mine, for example, a VP of marketing from a European country working in China. Marketing in Western Europe is mature and sophisticated compared to that of China. The approaches couldn’t be more different. China is all about building relationships. In fact, most Chinese business owners prefer to learn about potential suppliers in person at events or conferences.
My client said he tried in vain to overlay his expertise in a market that was nothing like what he knew. This backfired. Things only began to turn around when he started asking, “What would you do?”
When you find yourself trying to fix something or someone that is not broken, just stop….