This slogan invites everyone - visiting the beautiful city of Bergamo, Italy - to keep the city, the monuments and the streets clean with a sustainable future in mind. In this quote 4 important elements struck me, when I have read it recently on the spot:
We are responsible
You are responsible
The request to act for sustainability
These elements inspired me to write down my own thoughts on Inclusion and Diversity.
Over the last two decades my team and I have contributed to one part of “D&I” i.e. “Diversity”. We have worked on the basis of - and the intention to bring about - respect and have worked with people on the various facets of diversity using different approaches.
I believe that now is the time to go to the next level: include diversity in our everyday lives.
A few years ago, Dr Robert Cialdini indicated in his work (‘Influence at work’) that people like to work with people like themselves. He called this “Liking”, in his theory of persuasion.
Let’s spend a moment on this – ‘Liking’. You will realize that creating space for diversity in your everyday professional life may be a considerable challenge!
I noticed while working around the globe for multinational companies that, indeed, people do tend to recruit and work with what you could call their “clones”. Similarity is so cool: we know ourselves and therefore it is much simpler to manage the same manner of work and thinking!
“Unfortunately”, however, the world keeps changing and we have no other option than to adapt to new situations and requirements.
Now, take again a few seconds and picture this: These new requirements are simply to work with people that are not like us and therefore, “different”. Consider the various kinds of differences: ethnicity, gender, family environment, beliefs, values, experiences, faith, personality type, neurology, biases, etc.
We have almost all noticed that there is a definite trend, a strong undercurrent toward a new thinking and a shift of values: because leveraging differences generates corporate success; we’d outperform competitors by focusing on D&I as well as “out-innovate” our industry through diversity.
I love the idea that we seem to now all care about the theme of inclusion and diversity and I am convinced that we need to take a step forward. Raising people’s awareness is an obvious although insufficient starting point and we’d better focus on imparting the necessary concrete skills to people and enable them to work in an inclusive environment.
This new paradigm of accepting and leveraging differences involves a change in culture, which means a change in mindset.
We at Inspiring Culture, suggest 5 steps:
Create the new culture (even the renewed purpose) of the organization and implement whatever will support the change;
Awareness: Ensure people understand the differences between their past and current experience and the new storyline;
Integrate the new paradigm. Like Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in your future. Elicit accountability;
Recognize others, learn to work with them and to transfer your skills to them;
Follow up. Sustain the change until it becomes the new story and new habits formed.
Talking about the above is important but acting on it is even more critical. When do you begin to make a real difference?
Build a new story together and remember; La storia siamo voi – “History is made by all of us”!