Five Steps for Building Diversity Awareness — Even if You’re Not a Manager
By: Kira Nurieli
There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of diverse work groups, but the majority of us feel disempowered to do anything about it. We pass off the responsibility to others — the hiring managers, the leaders with seniority, the CEOs, or the Boards of Directors, who may or may not be inclined to strategically hire with an eye for diverse employees. We therefore read headlines and sigh with a sense of defeat, thinking we “can’t really do anything about it.”
But if there’s anything we have learned from #MeToo and the brave women of Nike, it’s that those of us who want a more diverse workspace and level playing field can and should have a voice. We can find creative ways to influence those around us to consider more broad audiences when hiring, and navigate teams to pull together different ideas. With a bit of ingenuity, we can persuade those around us to be more mindful about diversity and inclusion.
1) Talk about it.
Even if you feel you aren’t friendly with folks in positions of power, you are likely only one degree away from someone who is. The more you discuss how your work culture could be improved by increased employee diversity, the greater the likelihood of your message being passed along to folks who can make a difference.
2) Get to know your HR systems.
Your HR office doesn’t need to be a bubble where you go only once or twice a year to check on benefits. Head over to find out company hiring policies and procedures and ask targeted questions about diversity-related protocols. Just asking questions will help plant ideas in the minds of those who are in positions to hire, negotiate bonuses, and strategize promotions.
3) Learn and share.
Keep yourself familiar with new and current trends in diversity practices. What are the recent statistics on women CEOs? What are some terrific new practices you’ve read about? Keep yourself in the know and share with friends to encourage them to be informed, as well.
4) Help your friends.
Many of us atrophy in our LinkedIn presence until we are looking for work. Carve out a few minutes a week to check your LinkedIn contacts and find who you can help. Follow, like, and share interesting articles by folks you’d like to promote and support. Building their social media impact can make a big difference.
It’s possible that even in your own space, you have more opportunities to ask for pay, benefits, or promotions that you have overlooked. Take time to reflect on where you are in your career and what would make you feel more fulfilled, and then consider what is keeping you from self-advocating. The more you self-advocate, the more you set a standard for others to do so, as well. Be honest with yourself about what is holding you back and where you may be overly-concerned about acceptance or outside opinions. If you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?
In order to create real and lasting socio-economic change, each of us must do our best to build momentum in the right direction. “Think global, act local.” Find small, targeted places where you have influence and use that to advance yourself, your friends, and those who will come after.
Kira Nurieli specializes in training clients how to analyze crises, conflicts, and challenges in order to effectively manage businesses, boost product sales, and communicate with team members.