Diversity and Inclusion Starts With Hello
September is coming fast as people return to work, school, and home. This is a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with new people and break out of social and work silos.
There are three common threads through countless interviews and focus groups I’ve conducted in a wide range of organizations:
1- Many managers walk through the building without greeting employees. Employees feel ignored and unimportant.
2- There is a tendency for people to only say hello to people who look like them. This makes people who are not in the majority group feel invisible
3- Many people are uncomfortable approaching individuals who look different to ask for help or offer assistance.
This make these people feel isolated and impacts the sharing of ideas.
This is a great time to end all of that, to practice inclusion and break through the silos by taking these three easy steps.
1- Notice to whom you say hello, to whom you make eye contact, and to whom you smile. Most people will say they talk to everyone, show no favorites,
and like to believe they treat everyone with the same amount of friendliness. However, after they take this first step, they realize that in fact they do tend to smile, look people in the eye, and say hello to those that are like them.
2- Start saying hello and addressing people who are different than you. Be aware of those you didn’t even see before because your focus was on those who seem similar to you.
Take the conversation further by asking how their summer has been and what was the best part of it. It’s an easy conversation starter. Share stories.
You may be surprised about what you have in common and what you can learn from their different experiences.
3- Now that you’re aware of greater numbers of people, either ask for or offer to help someone different than you with a project, an idea, or just opening up a stuck drawer.
Having conversations with people who are different than you doesn’t have to be profound, courageous or deep but it does start with hello and goes on from there.
Simma Lieberman, “The Inclusionist,” is a Diversity and Inclusion Culture Strategist, Speaker and Executive Coach. She creates cultures where employees love to do their best best work and customers love to do business. Simma helps find and unlock hidden genius for breakthrough innovation.