Belonging is core to making diversity and inclusion work.

  • The core to making Diversity and Inclusion a viable part of your workforce is giving employees a sense of belonging. Research in neuroscience shows us that wanting to belong is in our DNA. Human beings have an innate need for human connection. Studies show us that bonding with teammates and the feeling of belonging is more motivational than making money. Studies also show that the sense of belonging to a team decreases stress and improves performance in the workplace. (source)

There are three principles that when embedded in diversity and inclusion efforts increase its likelihood for success. engage managers in solving the problem, expose them to people from different groups, and encourage social accountability for change

  • For the past few decades, we’ve seen businesses give focus to diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, the methods to increase equality has been mostly focused on controlling behavior through rules, regulations, and threats. Trying to control behavior rarely works out. People inherently want control over their feelings. As a result, issues with diversity and inclusion have not gotten better. Some companies, however, have gotten positive results utilizing tactics without trying to control people. One method is to engage, not force, managers to solve diversity and inclusion problems. If managers are encouraged rather than strong-armed to make changes, they are more likely to be “diversity champions.” Invite your managers to join college recruitment programs for minorities. And invite them to mentor minorities. Studies show that they will not only choose to participate, but they will take the job seriously.

  • Exposing managers to diverse groups of people has been proven to lessen bias in the workplace and increase inclusive hiring. Companies can expose people to more diversity through self-managed teams, a group of people from all areas of the organization that works together on a project. White men, women, and people of color are more likely to have different roles in the organization, so creating a self-managed team, where everyone works side-by-side, increases diversity contact and lessons bias. Another way expose managers to diversity is by rotating management trainees through departments.

  • By tapping into human’s innate need to look good from another person’s perspective, companies can encourage social accountability for change. If a business finds that it regularly gives raises to white people over people of color (with identical job titles and performance ratings), transparency of everyone’s pay increases will promote social accountability. When managers find out that they have been biased in given out raises, they will make changes. Diversity task forces are another way that businesses can increase social accountability. These teams, made up of volunteer departments heads and underrepresented groups, look for issues of diversity, like bias pay raises or a lack of mentoring participation within a certain department. Because all departments are represented in the team, managers will be more likely to want to make sure their department “look good.” And another way to increase social accountability for change is to have diversity managers who will inspect each department in matters of diversity. Knowing that someone is holding them accountable, managers are less likely to engage in bias decision-making because they will want to look good.

Types of diversity and inclusion training that works.

  • Diversity training in the workplace has been rife with controversy. At times it seems to work, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes, it seems to make things worse. Two types of training exercise that have been known to be effective are perspective-taking and goal-setting.

  • Perspective-taking is basically a practice in empathy or the practice of imagining what it might feel like to be in someone else’s shoes. An exercise in perspective-taking is to write a few sentences about what you imagine the challenges are for a marginalized group of people. Studies show that this type of exercise increases pro-diversity attitudes in the short and long run. Increasing positives attitude towards one different perspective also increases positive attitudes towards others.

  • Goal setting within diversity training is about creating specific and attainable challenges to expand your pro-diversity attitude. Make goals like challenging insensitive comments about marginalized groups when overheard in the workplace. Another goal can be to challenge yourself to learn how to handle these moments when they happen. Goal setting has also been shown to increase positive attitudes toward diverse groups. (source)