In the pursuit of building diverse and equitable teams, it is crucial not to overlook the critical step of fostering inclusion and belonging.
Verna Myers aptly stated, "Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." It is this sense of inclusion and belonging that unlocks the true power of diversity within a team.
In this article, and in our upcoming webinar of the same title, we will explore the significance of inclusion and belonging in leveraging diversity and provide actionable steps to activate awareness and cultivate a culture of belonging within your organization.
“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance”- Verna Myers
The importance of diversity and equity
Diversity is essential, and many organizations have put significant effort into implementing policies and procedures to increase diversity and equity within their ranks. The benefits of diversity are undeniable, ranging from increased creativity and innovation to better problem-solving and decision-making.
However, merely having diverse individuals on a team does not guarantee these positive outcomes.
Uncovering potential blockers
Despite the presence of diverse talents, teams may still fail to realize the benefits of diversity due to various potential blockers. Unconscious bias, communication barriers, resistance to change, and power dynamics can impede the effective integration of diverse perspectives. To unleash the full potential of diversity, teams must address these obstacles head-on.
The power of awareness
Looking for ways to increase diversity is important work; but it's not enough. Instead, finding ways to activate people’s awareness is essential to unlocking the power of diversity.
There are four types of awareness that are relevant to this context:
- Self-awareness: Understanding one's strengths, weaknesses, values, and impact on others. Self-awareness helps team members gauge their own felt levels of inclusion and belonging as well as identifying their unique current and potential contributions to the team.
- Awareness of others: Recognizing the strengths, weaknesses and aspirations of team members. This awareness fosters inclusion by identifying ways to actively involve others and demonstrate that their contributions are valued in ways that resonate with them.
- Awareness of the situation or context: Being mindful of the external factors and circumstances that may affect team dynamics. Activated situational awareness helps teams take steps to ensure that inclusion remains intact even during challenging times or organizational changes.
- Awareness of future potential opportunities: Cultivating a mindset that explores multiple possibilities and avoids prematurely settling on one solution. This helps prevent falling in a rut, and fosters an inclusive environment where diverse ideas are encouraged and explored.
Unlocking the power of diversity with inclusion and belonging
While diversity and equity lay the foundation, it's inclusion and belonging that unlock the true potential of diverse teams. Without strong inclusion and belonging, team members may feel isolated; unable to leverage their unique strengths effectively. When awareness is activated, individuals and team leaders are empowered to take steps to increase inclusion and belonging, and thus access the true benefits that diversity and equity offer.
Activating awareness for inclusion and belonging
There are many ways to activate awareness in individuals and teams. Here are a few ideas to get you started; more will be shared in our upcoming webinar.
- Developing self-awareness: Encourage team members to reflect on their individual contributions and recognize their value to the team, looking for ways to lean in and share their gifts. Their personal profile is a good place to begin.
- Intentionally asking others what they bring: Foster a culture where team members actively seek to understand and appreciate the skills and perspectives of their colleagues. Sharing selected portions of an Insights Discovery personal profile amongst team members is one useful approach.
- Assessing the team's situation: Continuously evaluate the team's dynamics and address challenges or changes that may impact inclusion and belonging. Discovering Team Effectiveness has a useful model for this kind of assessment.
Inclusion and belonging are vital components that enable organizations to harness the full potential of diversity and equity within their teams.
By activating awareness and encouraging individuals to embrace diverse perspectives, teams can create an environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated.
Remember, diversity gets you to the party, but inclusion and belonging are what make everyone dance together comfortably. Embrace these critical steps, and your organization will thrive on the power of diversity.
Interested in learning more at our upcoming webinar? Register your spot here.