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Simma Lieberman is an in-demand keynote speaker, consultant, and author of the popular book, Putting Diversity to Work. High level organizations seek her unique insights on Diversity, Leadership, and Breaking Through Fear and Self-Doubt. Simma helps companies improve their productivity through her seminars and training workshops! Click here to learn more.

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Signs of Stress and Imbalance

How To Break Through Fear in Turbulent Times

What is Stress?

Solving Problems in a High-Stress Environment

Break Through Self-Doubt & Fear

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The Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves about Change

The Top Ten Ways to Manage People through Change

Understanding Change

The Challenge of Change

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Be Heard. Be Strong. Be Effective. How to Deliver Impressive Presentations

Getting Started in the Speaking Business: Answers to Burning Questions

What Entrepreneurs Need to Know to be Successful

How to Create and Maintain Culture as You Grow

Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Candidates

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A Passion for Diversity

Traits of a Diverse Organization

Simma's Holiday Diversity Q and A

How to Go from Eggshell Walking to Multicultural Festivity Making

Are You Wasting Your Money on Diversity Training?

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Understanding Dialogue: A Q&A on the benefits of dialogue

Dialogue as a Communication Tool

Communication with Concern

Helping Others Deal with Loss

10 PC Tips for Communicating with a Diverse Audience

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Differences in Male and Female Communication Styles

Gender Communications Differences and Strategies

Wage and Position Disparity across Gender

Tips for Better Communication between Men and Women in the Workplace

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Life/Work Balance in the Real World

New Year's Resolutions: A New Approach?

Working with Loved Ones: Leverage Potential and Avoid Pitfalls

Modern Day Stressors: What Stress Looks Like in the 21st Century

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All in the Family

Are You Truly Successful?

How to Create and Maintain the Culture of Your Restaurants

Let's Get Physical

Meditate Stress Away

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Break Through Self-Doubt & Fear

Substance Abuse

The Courage to Feel Bad

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Diversity Benefits Organizations and Communities

By Simma Lieberman. This article was published in the Pacific Mountain Network News, July 2002.

More and more, organizations are realizing that in order to be successful and recruit and retain the best employees, they must value the diversity of their employees and the clients they serve.

Whether you are a non-profit or a private corporation, learning to recognize and utilize differences can benefit your organization.

For most businesses this does not happen automatically, but through a process that involves personal and professional change.

Organizations need to define what diversity means to them
For most organizations it involves creating an inclusive organization where the differences of all people are respected, valued and utilized towards achieving a common goal. Differences people bring to the work environment include race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, geographic background, education, economic background and thinking and communication styles.

Organizations must have clarity about the specific benefits of diversity to their success
It's important that employees are representative of their client base so they can understand their needs and know how to serve them. It does not mean that people of one culture, gender, age, etc, only work with those respective populations. It means that the organization as a whole is better able to relate to a larger population. This creates better working relationships, and helps avoid miscommunication based on cultural differences and ignorance about other groups. It saves time and money and having to do things over. For Lucy Shelby at RCAC in Portland, having a well rounded understanding about the cultures of her clients can help build stronger relationships and give more loans to communities for building new affordable housing. She says, "I want to understand how people think and feel before we talk about filling housing needs or building leadership capacity.

Simma Lieberman's diversity training seminars can help your organization or company. If you are interested in hiring Simma for a diversity seminar, click here for more information.

Organizations need to assess how they are presently doing in terms of recruitment and retention and promotion
Assess the cultural makeup of your clients and your employees. Do you have employees that reflect your client base? Where are the gaps that need to be filled? It's important to develop an assessment to get this information. A combination of written surveys, focus groups and interviews will provide that. You'll find out what your employees are thinking and what issues you may not be aware of. Employees and managers together can develop ideas to make an organization more effective. Victoire Chochezi of RCAC in Sacramento, CA talks about the importance of diversity in thinking styles and communication. She states, "It's good to do assessments. Like minds tend to gravitate toward like minds and not work as much with other people who do not think like them. We always need to branch out and work with people who are from different backgrounds and have different working and thinking styles."

After you do an assessment develop a plan to address issues and create a plan to support diversity. Are you lacking diversity at the employee level, management, or board of directors? Some organizations have been able to recruit diverse employees but their executive leadership is exactly alike in terms of race, age gender, geographic background or education. If you always recruit from the same sources you will always get the same people. Talk to other companies that have successfully recruited and maintained a diverse workforce. Find out how they get their candidates and what they have done to create a more inclusive environment. According to Chochezi, "when people feel included, they are more likely to give appropriate input. They still feel encouraged even if their ideas are not accepted each time."

Provide appropriate training
Even if you are diverse, in terms of demographics, it's necessary to train people to understand each other and the communities you serve. Just having people who are different from each other is not enough. A good training program helps people work better together and utilize each other's strengths. Depending on the size of your organization you might want to form a diversity council to champion your diversity initiative, deal with issues and build a stronger team.

Learn from other organizations but be aware of what your group can do specifically to be more inclusive.
Educate and train people to be aware of their conscious and unconscious biases and assumptions that impede working together. Even things like social events can make a difference in your organization. Issues come up during winter holidays when people from different cultures have celebrations. Its important to include all people and if your celebrations are geared towards Christmas or any other one group it can create discomfort for others. While some people won't say anything they just won't show up or if they do it can create resentment or a feeling that some people are more valued than others.

Examine all systems and processes and change those impede inclusion.

Finally, senior management needs to drive the change or it will be seen as one more good idea that never worked.

Simma Lieberman works with people and organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. She specializes in diversity, gender communications, life-work balance and stress, and acquiring and retaining new customers.

You may reprint these articles free of charge, on a non-exclusive basis, provided that Simma Lieberman's name and contact information are included. She would love to know that you plan to use her article(s); please contact her to let her know.

Call Simma at 510.527.0700 or Email simma@simmalieberman.com
Visit her website at www.simmalieberman.com

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