By now, you are likely worried about employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction. You may be anxious to protect your organization from liability issues. And, you might be concerned about your organization’s bottom line.
If your workplace culture is experiencing diversity-related struggles, you are not alone. Concepts such as Implicit Bias are new and unclear to many. The modern workplace has changed dramatically from the past. Work communities are far more diverse than they’ve ever been and today’s employees tend to be more upfront with gender, race and sexual identities.
Because of the ever-changing dialogue around diversity, it has become the norm for executives, managers and leaders to learn about cultural competency best practices. Inclusive leadership behaviors can include handling insidious or blatant incidents of homophobia, misogyny, racism and/or prejudice, at both the structural and day-to-day levels.
There is not always a clear and surefire way to handle these conflicts. However, by learning the early signs and becoming familiar with culturally appropriate language, it becomes possible to talk about these issues before they become too serious. You can learn to create and sustain a peaceful environment while promoting greater levels of focus, productivity and creativity.
The advantages of a diverse workforce are many. When a team recognizes and fosters one another’s differences and unique strengths, they can create a positive, healthy and natural dynamic. When we see a reduction in Implicit Bias we see an increase in productivity and work fulfillment.
When employees’ experiences are legitimized and they feel genuinely valued and respected they no longer walk away from work feeling disenchanted or disengaged. In fact, according to a survey from AECOM, productivity can go up 60% when companies make an earnest effort to address intersectionality and create a comfortable space for dialogue.
Creating a safe and inclusive work environment requires more than a perfunctory knowledge of diverse groups. Leaders must model support of all backgrounds and identities, from heritage to skin color, transgender to non-binary and beyond.
My experience also involves working with low-income, marginalized communities where it became clear that the underlying problems were systemic oppression, bias and discrimination. Therefore, my approach to diversity and inclusion consulting is informed by this belief: intense frustration and anxiety can be a healthy, normal reaction to structural or systemic issues.
As a gay man, I feel very comfortable sharing my own experiences both within and outside the workplace. My aim is to create a gentle, supportive space in which to coach leaders and communities. I emphasize accountability, empathy and compassionate confrontation. As a response to discomfort or feeling undervalued, you can use language that is simultaneously gentle and self-empowering.
This work can be uncomfortable by its very nature. The important thing is to get employees to express themselves candidly and openly in an accepting environment. I believe in using humor and levity to keep people from feeling afraid.
By encouraging compassionate confrontation, it becomes possible for individuals and teams to discover the core of their conflicts. And, by expanding the organizational framework to legitimize other experiences, an inclusive community can form that affirms itself and leverages its own diversity.
By promoting the advantages of a diverse workforce, you can encourage a freer state of thinking among your employees. Through diversity and inclusion consulting, your community can begin to realize the resources at their fingertips. Including race, gender and sexuality frameworks in the lens of your organizational culture can help empower people of color, queer people, women and other minorities to have confidence in their community and do their best work. This may also ensure fewer cases of imposter syndrome, which can be common among minorities in leadership positions.
I have 18 years of experience practicing psychotherapy from a gay-affirmative framework. I have been trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy and the psychology of work. I am an instructor in the Culturally Competent Psychotherapy program at Columbia University, which spearheaded the research into diversity and inclusion. My work very much focuses on bringing unconscious bias into the conscious mind. This kind of therapy explores how conversations around diversity affect one’s psychology, experience of life, management style and so on.
Can diversity and inclusion education actually change workplace culture?
Diversity and inclusion education requires an ongoing dialogue because our culture is changing constantly. Implicit bias is woven into many individuals and organizations until they are confronted with it, companies who are proactive avoid the trauma of lawsuits, decreased productivity and an unhappy workforce. Sustained education can create an acute, consistent awareness around this topic in your workplace culture. As time goes on, employees’ understandings of diversity change dramatically. Tension and conflict lessen even as productivity and income rise.
Please feel free to contact me at (917) 699-9722 with additional questions. I am happy to conduct a 30-minute consultation, free of charge. You can also book an appointment by clicking here.
Please note I am willing to travel to your workplace and conduct lectures and trainings, though my central practice is based in New York City and I travel extensively to provide consultation services, specifically to the Miami area.
Diversity and inclusion is a divisive topic. Can bringing it into the workplace create more problems?
Problems related to cultural competency and implicit bias arise when legitimate experiences are dismissed. When companies don’t realize this, they will continue to see employees disengage. The community can fall apart.
When language around diversity and inclusion issues are brought to light, people can express themselves in a way that helps them feel heard. I believe that education is the most useful tool for healing diversity conflicts, both at the individual and interpersonal level.
You don’t work at my organization. How can you be the expert?
In the last 18 years, I’ve seen individuals, organizations and partnerships learn from conflict and get to a balanced, productive place. My approach is highly collaborative and based off proven psychological research. There are strategic steps we can take to modify team dynamics. Sometimes it’s a process— not everything can change overnight. I emphasize supporting the strengths of your employees and making room for their dialogue, which helps people make sense of the tensions around them.
Is your firm, company or organization having trouble creating an inclusive work environment? Does your work culture run into complications when it comes to the complex, ongoing discussion of diversity awareness?
Diversity in today’s workplace is ever-evolving, growing and alive. Every organization has diversity issues unique to its people and circumstances. Perhaps the mandatory, one-time diversity and inclusion training video just doesn’t feel like enough. It may not even address the particular kinds of conflicts your community is experiencing.
As issues like microaggression and intersectionality become more relevant, individuals in the workplace may find themselves unprepared. They may not have the language or the knowledge to describe why something was problematic or affected them negatively. Because of this, employees may not know how to express their feelings or respond to accusations diplomatically. There may be misunderstandings and a pervasive unease that comes up around certain issues.
Offering Psychotherapy and Career Counseling in NYC & Litchfield County, CT - Online & In Person Sessions - (917) 699-9722