Nowadays, diversity and inclusion are important topics as they rightly should be. Companies that want to be successful need to be as diverse as possible. Diverse teams and organizations achieve better performance because they are able to come up with different perspectives, ideas, and solutions.
In the world we are currently living in, we now deal and communicate with people from other countries, cultures, backgrounds, ages, etc. It is not always easy to interact with everyone. Some situations can be challenging. However, they are also very rewarding.
I’m a huge fan of diversity and inclusion, whether we talk about people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, nationalities, languages, religion, age, gender, sexual preference, marital status, etc. To me, appreciating diversity means recognizing differences between people and acknowledging that these differences are actually an asset. We should never discriminate but embrace diversity.
How to embrace diversity? What can we do as individuals to be more inclusive?
Never assume you know everything or that you have the answer to a question. Don’t generalize or believe in stereotypes. Be open to all suggestions, ideas, perspectives or feedback. It’s easy to say ‘[Insert gender] always say this’ or ‘[Insert nationality] people always do that’. But remember that everybody is different and that even if a certain gender, nationality, profession, etc. often share some common traits, there are exceptions everywhere.
In personal or professional relationships, there will always be a time where you will disagree. And it is ok to disagree with someone, as long as you do it respectfully. You may not agree with what your counterpart is saying but you always have to respect him/her. Consider his/her feelings, ideas, wishes, or rights.
Accept everyone for who they are
Everybody is different. We were all born in different circumstances, we all have different friends, different interests, different backgrounds, etc. We have not chosen where we were born, nor the color of our skin or eyes. Everybody is unique and has something to offer.
Do not judge
Even if something may sound weird at first, let the person explain why he/she said something. You do not know what you do not know. It’s easy to provide judgement. It’s more difficult to listen and try to understand others. Also, do not judge quickly: for instance, someone who may be struggling with taking a test during training can become one of your best employees in the future.
Stay curious / Be willing to learn
Ask questions. Listen. Try to understand where the person is coming from, try to put yourself in his/her shoes. Be willing to learn. The more you know, the more you’ll realize that you actually know nothing and that there is so much to learn in this world. People from different countries or cultures view things differently. Because of their history, backgrounds, circumstances, etc. they bring valuable input, especially if you implement a product or a service globally.
I believe that we all have something to offer and that we all have something to learn from each other. Someone older has a wealth of experience while someone younger will bring new ideas. Someone from another country will provide other insights you may not have thought of. Someone with a ‘different-ability’ will make you think of something you did not even imagine.
I always say: ‘Together we are stronger’.
Diversity makes us stronger, diversity makes us better.