A Three-Step Approach to Corporate Diversity and Inclusion

Understanding diversity and inclusion means having the long-term vision that the company should reflect its consumers' demographics.

A Three-Step Approach to Corporate Diversity and Inclusion - Training Mag

A Framework for Diversity and Inclusion

A culturally intelligent company’s leadership is cognizant, aware of the values, and understands the perceptions of its culturally diverse personnel, consumers, partners, stakeholders, and more, and uses this understanding to engage in best strategic practices that benefit all when working in cross-cultural and multicultural situations with different ethnic groups.

Today, we live in an increasingly diverse society, and more than ever companies need to be able to respond with a sense of morality, consciousness, and mindfulness of this diversity.

Companies with diverse personnel increasingly are faced with the challenges that come from managing diverse human capital with different cultural views. The need to cultivate a work environment that is free of biases and prejudices is the best approach to prevent xenophobia and incidents of incivility.

Establishing policies that promote a collectively conscious working environment, where the expected standards of conduct are role-modeled from the leadership down to the “assembly line” of production is essential. The company leader should be the embodiment of a mindful leader.

Evidence shows that managing a conscious and culturally intelligent workforce contributes to increased productivity, and the overall collective well-being of the company.

The 2020 Census promises a mosaic landscape with a rich ethnic and cultural diversity in the projected growth for the next 40 years. The 2010 Census revealed the increasingly diverse demographic growth of the last decade. The significance of this growth is the doubling of the ethnic minority population across the nation. This rapid growth reflects a diverse ethnic demographic profile of the population.

Culturally intelligent personnel can contribute to the mission of the company, such as increased access to, and successful execution of business plans in the delivery of products. Understanding diversity and inclusion means having the long-term vision that the company should reflect its consumers’ demographics.

Here is a three-pronged approach to the corporate cultural mindset:

1. Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence is a learned ability to understand cultural norms and their influence on human behavior. It is a state of awareness that moves the way to do business in a more efficient capacity that is profitable.

It connects us to the human experience of shared commonalities; it promotes civility, empathy, compassion, and tolerance, leveling the playing field that fosters an environment of fairness and equality.

As humans, we are territorial by nature. Having a sense of understanding of others minimizes conflicts driven by fear of the unknown, and the instinctive response to fight or flight from what is different. This allows the attention and energy of employees to be focused on the company’s mission and productivity.

2. Social Marketing for Cultural Intelligence

Social marketing is the discipline that uses commercial marketing strategies to promote the adoption of the desired behavior. It seeks to influence social behaviors to benefit the wellbeing of the collective with approaches from multiple disciplines such as education, advertising, anthropology, and social psychology.

Its most important focus is to address the concerns of consumers for the well-being of the collective. It is based on “marketing philosophy” that individuals will adopt new behaviors or ideas if they feel something of value is to be gained in the engagement.

It recognizes its ethnic expert staff and engages them as ambassadors—as cultural identity advocates—including their cultural expertise in decision-making and during the drafting of company policies and initiatives.

One of the traits of the human spirit is its altruistic nature. This is an innate and commonly shared trait that cultivates behaviors that are conscious and reflect the best interests of others as an overall reflection of the company mission.

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to harness extraordinary awareness in real time, cognizant of everyone, and able to connect with the energy around, from a place free of suffering, bias, and prejudices. Mindfulness incorporates the ability to “read the pulse, the energy in the room” and the ability to be conscious and alert.

The benefits of incorporating this approach into the corporate cultural mindset when managing human capital resources far outweigh not having one in place.

Training staff by combining a multicultural intelligence approach with mindful strategies encourages compassion and a sense of social responsibility—not only in the workplace but also influencing their life-work-community in engaging in humane behaviors that provide equal treatment, access, and opportunities to all individuals, regardless of their background or preferences, abilities or beliefs.

The standards of conduct should mirror the basis of human rights principles, free of prejudices, to ensure that these rights are applied equitably, by removing any systemic barriers.

From the foundation of the three-pronged approach described above, here are five strategies for diversity and inclusion that are essential for businesses to thrive, while contributing to the betterment of humanity and society in general. 

  1. Create a work environment in which everyone can contribute and that allows staff professional development. This collaboration creates an exchange of knowledge as a resource, allowing ethnic experts to share their cultural expertise to create training and policies that will reflect the rules of engagement.
  2. Encourage employees’ community engagement by putting strategies for best practices in a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and skills, among all the partners, collaborators, and stakeholders. For example, there can be a mentoring program for younger workers.
  3. Develop culturally intelligent staff trainings to increase the ability for the organization to cope with change and expand employees’ creativity in response to an increasingly diverse world of customers. Training personnel to be able to work in multicultural situations prevents and minimizes xenophobia, and promotes understanding and acceptance of difference.
  4. Promote a sense of ownership by conducting yearly reviews and have consumers participate in the planning, execution, and evaluation of company core values and its operation. For example, an organization can conduct focus groups and surveys.
  5. Implement policies and procedures that integrate cultural and language intelligence in the core operation of the company. For example, a company can provide cultural intelligence training with language-appropriate materials.
Ivonne Hanks is an author, an international speaker, and a mindfulness advocate. She is a transformative integrative wellness strategist, encouraging mindfulness, and social engagement. She is the President of Worldwide Culture-Link, a multiculturalism intelligence, and mindful leadership-consulting firm.