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Fostering a Mindset of Diversity and Inclusion

career & business leadership & impact Oct 02, 2022

We’ve all heard terms such as diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of corporate culture. But these are far more than buzzwords – when all employees feel safe and valued in bringing their unique selves to work, they will likely be happier, more productive, and more loyal to their employer, which translates to greater success for the organization.

How can companies move beyond treating diversity as a box that needs to be checked, and ensure that they are creating an environment where each and every employee feels comfortable? According to Shan Foster, our guest in Episode 113 of The MINDSet Game® podcast, the solution may require a resetting of corporate culture.

Shan graduated from Vanderbilt University, where having classmates from all over the world and a vast range of backgrounds taught him the value of diversity, and was drafted into the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. Today, he is the co-founder and CEO of Fostering Healthy Solutions, LLC, where he cultivates healthy solutions to diversity issues through education, training, and execution, as well as the author of What Hurt Didn’t Hinder and a frequent speaker before national and international corporations, conferences, and collegiate national sports programs. In this week’s episode, Shan offers guidance on how companies can reset their culture to foster a mindset of diversity and inclusion.

 

What are the benefits of diversity?

Shan says that while all humans share many commonalities, it’s the things that make us unique that bring the most value. For example, in the corporate context, people from different backgrounds contribute different skill sets, ideas, and perspectives that can help their teams approach challenges in a new light, ultimately fueling greater innovation and productivity. To tap into these benefits, companies need to learn to appreciate each employee’s differences.

 

What are some of the obstacles that companies encounter when trying to foster diversity?

Shan says that many companies have put hiring and other aspects of their workplace culture on autopilot, which can allow biases to take control. For instance, they may tend to hire candidates who graduated from certain schools, or only advertise job openings on certain websites – which can inadvertently cause countless candidates from diverse backgrounds to be excluded. Therefore, intentionality is key. Companies must take the time to examine their current processes and look for opportunities to reach diverse job candidates, and must invest in professional training and development to ensure that their managers know how to effectively manage teams that include individuals from a variety of backgrounds. In addition, companies need to be intentional about each employee’s career path, making sure that people not only have mentors, but also sponsors who will advocate on their behalf.

 

Steps to resetting corporate culture

Shan shares several steps that companies need to follow when resetting their culture, including:

  • Discovery – as Shan says, “You can't know where you're going unless you know where you are.” Companies must look at their current policies and procedures related to hiring and training, as well as what employees’ experiences are like once they’re hired.
  • Strategic planning – companies should create a 3–5-year strategic plan for increasing diversity and inclusion.
  • Training – managers must be trained to manage a diverse workforce effectively, which includes giving regular feedback so each employee can become the best version of themselves.
  • Accountability – without accountability, all other efforts will be meaningless.

 

Shan also stresses that leaders need to reconnect their heads with their hearts, remembering that they have a responsibility to create an environment where people feel that their views and their cultures are respected, and where no one is threatened or retaliated against. By putting in the effort to create a diverse, inclusive workplace, companies can empower employees to be the best possible versions of themselves, thereby contributing to a more productive, profitable organization.

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