I was speaking with one of my all-time favorite HR leaders the other week and we were talking about diversity, something that his company is working hard to embrace. He was describing his vision for diversity and how amazing it will be when companies not only embrace diversity but allow it to blossom and become the norm, not a quota.
I’ve led and am proud of the diverse teams that I upheld those Diversity and Inclusion values within. But did I really exemplify that diversity as a leader? Did I lead in a way that allowed diversity to flourish or did I lead with the notion of how I perceived diversity?
I’m not sure of the answer. I should probably ask my former teams. However, in all transparency, I do know that I did not consciously change my leadership style.
So, how do you know if you are creating a team environment that allows diversity to prosper?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you encourage your team to keep “core hours” and schedule meetings to fit within those hours (i.e. 10 am to 3 pm)?
- This is a great way to respect diversity - some members on your team may have children to drop-off or pick-up or elderly parents to escort to doctors’ appointments.
- Do you know your team members? Do you know if they have kids or a partner? Divorced? Do they have aging parents? Do they have pets? What activities/sports do they enjoy? Do they volunteer? Where did they go on their last vacation?
- In order to embrace and support diversity on your team, you have to understand it. Get to know your team, connect with them and make sure you’re creating a culture that embraces everyone on the team.
- Do you understand what you value about each team member and why? Is it their innovation and creativity? Their ability to execute? Their steadfastness? Their attention to detail?
- Knowing the strengths of each team member allows you to assign tasks and projects and create partnerships for optimum performance.
- Do you create development opportunities for each member of your team regardless of age and life-stage?
- By creating development opportunities for each employee you’re showing that you value everyone and ensuring that no one gets left behind.
If you answered yes to these questions, then give yourself a pat on the back, you’re leading the way when it comes to empowering diversity. If you answered no to any of the questions, you might want to revisit your process to create a more inclusive environment.