RCS Influencer Wendy Marvin says that a diverse workforce begins when we, as leaders, realize we are not the center of the universe.
We are the sum of our existence, the product of our family, our experiences and our beliefs. Our view of the world is colored by previous life experiences, interactions and beliefs - and it is NOT the same way everyone around us sees the world. Read that last sentence once again.
How do we lead and create a space that makes a diverse group of people feel comfortable?
- Do some work – Begin to notice the things we have strong opinions about. Consider the experiences or influences that brought us to the conclusions. Look at each of these and question. Is this real? Could there be another story here that I’m missing? Most of life is made up of the stories we tell ourselves. Personal narratives are a powerful key to the filters we process life through. At any given time, we all have the power to change our story.
- Ask questions – Knowledge is key to understanding. The more we know about a person, the more we can value them as a unique individual. Ask questions that allow us to gain more understanding. Let the person tell us “their” story. Sometimes the stories lead to a shared experience.
- Build trust – Honor the differences in our workforces. Have a day to celebrate cultural heritage. Create Business Resource Groups that allow people to come together to discuss life. Give people the freedom to learn about each other.
Why does it matter?
- Having a diverse workforce builds trust in your company from a diverse market.
- Employee engagement reduces costs by cutting turnover. Happy employees are more productive.
- A diverse workforce will always bring more to the table when navigating a difficult/changing market. They can often find answers to problems that others get hung up on.
Diverse workforces don’t just happen. They’re a lot of work, but the payoff is great.
Wendy Marvin is CEO of Matrix Roofing. See her full bio here.