How To Cultivate True Diversity In The Workplace

How can we cultivate true diversity in the workplace? originally appeared on rate: the place to acquire and share knowledge, empower people to learn from others and better understand the world.

answers by Richard Winters, Director of Development for Mayo Clinic, Emergency Physician rate:

Why does your workplace work total diversityon the one hand, but ignore your perspectives on the other?

It’s the result of how your leaders and teams make decisions. And while your workplace may have shut down for diversity, it can amplify the voices of just a few. As a result, you experience diversity in spirit but never realize its true power.

Think of a meeting where your team discussed a sensitive topic—a complex subject with many nuances. It’s very likely that every time someone spoke, you thought to yourself, “Yes, I agree” or “No, I don’t agree.” This is natural. You have expertise and perspectives, and like others in your position, you have opinions.

This also happens with the leaders and teams in your workplace. They ask you for your perspective, but it’s like you’re not even being heard. They think “no, I disagree” or “that doesn’t matter” and move on. And you wonder why you said something. Your perspectives will be silenced. Their leader smiles and comes to the conclusion they had decided all along.

In order to cultivate diversity, we need to rid ourselves of this initial reflex of forming opinions quickly on complex issues. We must use decision-making processes that take advantage of the diversity of perspectives, rather than jumping to conclusions. and research has shown us that this leads to more effective decisions.

At the Mayo Clinic, I teach Executives a three step process to help them facilitate and navigate decisions amidst difficult challenges. First they develop a common reality based on different perspectives, then they select several options on how to move forward, and finally they decide on a way forward. You ROW Forward (Reality-Options-Way Forward) to trade.

We suppress diversity when we jump to options or the way forward before we develop a shared reality. Shared reality includes not only the perspectives of the leader and the one person who has something to say at every meeting, but also the perspectives of each team member. The construction of shared reality uses the diversity in space. It’s cooperative. Shared reality needs to be discovered and explored before Jump to options and the way forward.

As we discover shared reality, we ask colleagues to engage with the issue at hand and capture each different perspective. We acknowledge the similarities and disagreements, the fears and concerns, and the differing opinions that are a natural part of any difficult challenge. We can see that both sides of a debate can be right. We note issues as they arise. We identify aspects of the problem that we hadn’t even considered.

When psychological safety is low, we capture perspectives in a way that preserves anonymity. We want to hear what hasn’t been said. For example, we can use breakout groups or sticky notes during the process. Or we can appoint a trusted scribe to present perspectives.

Diversity in the workplace is cultivated when we apply the wisdom that comes from different backgrounds and experiences. Before we make decisions, we develop a common reality.

This question originally appeared on rate – the place to acquire and share knowledge, empower people to learn from others and better understand the world.

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