Value team members’ differences

Fostering an equitable environment of inclusion and belonging, where people of all identities can flourish and thrive, is at the core of honoring dignity. But many managers and colleagues tend to gravitate toward people who seem the most familiar to them—even in the hiring process. This often leaves those who are perceived as “different” to the side, frustrated, lonely, and not fully engaged as contributors. Breaking that cycle, even if it means leaving comfort zones, promotes learning and understanding. When team members see and embrace each other’s differences (rather than merely tolerate them), they can fully leverage everyone’s strengths.

Learning about differences, those that are visible and those that are less so, requires active work. First, engage with everyone. But pay extra attention to those who are underrepresented in your organization—your team will definitely benefit, and you’ll help those colleagues through the challenges that come with being “the only” or “one of a very few.” Second, be eager to know more about any culture represented on your team or cultural norms in locations other than your own. Third, lead with an allyship mindset, or a mindset that focuses on supporting those with marginalized identities that you may not share, and by example, always modeling your organization’s core values while being mindful of your position of influence and power. Put ‘skin in the game’ as an ally. As our partner Y-Vonne Hutchinson has explained, regularly show up, put something on the line to leverage privilege even when it’s not comfortable, and advocate for others when they’re not in the room. And fourth, be empathetic about traumatic external events or crises that may have an impact your team and may disproportionately affect some members. (Academy of Management)

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