Want to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace? Start with Trust

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The focus on women’s rights, racial equality, and other social movements are more relevant than ever as they continue to push the topics of diversity and inclusion under the microscope. The challenge to achieve this in society has extended to the workplace as employees look at how organizations treat their people beyond merely providing a paycheck.

Employees look for an environment where they are appreciated, respected, and supported regardless of demographics. Diversity and inclusion refer to the steps an organization takes to cultivate an equitable environment where different backgrounds can achieve success, and diverse perspectives are valued. While many organizations have policies that promote diversity and inclusion, their actions do not always align.

Creating a diverse and inclusive culture in an organization is more than the right thing to do; it is critical to staying relevant in a changing world. The question you need to ask yourself: Are diversity and inclusion a vital part of your organization, or is it just a “check box”?

Without trust, a diverse and inclusive workplace is not achievable. When trust is the pillar of these critical initiatives, it leads to increased retention, productivity, innovation, creativity, and engagement.

Diversity Does Not Equal Inclusion

While we tend to use the words diversity and inclusion together, they are two different concepts. Diversity refers to the demographic makeup of a group. It is possible – even common – to have a diverse group where inclusion is low. In these cases, trust is often lacking, and results suffer.

Inclusion requires that the different strengths, perspectives, ideas, experiences, and opinions of each individual be respected, valued, and sought out. In Three Requirements of a Diverse and Inclusive Culture – and Why They Matter for Your Organization, Gallup contends: Inclusiveness is a strategy for using each person’s unique and individual strengths to increase an organization’s productivity, profit, and performance.”

Only where there is true inclusion will an organization (or any group) achieve the benefits of diversity. And inclusion requires trust. But building trust in a diverse environment adds an additional challenge. Ironically from a neuroscience perspective, we are hardwired to trust those that are similar to us and distrust those who are different. This stems from the earliest days of human existence where different often equaled danger.

Building Trust in a Diverse Environment

While building trust in a diverse environment can be challenging, it is not impossible. According to Gallup, the benefits of an inclusive culture are significant, including increased job satisfaction, creativity, innovation, and less conflict, stress, and turnover. Certainly, benefits worth achieving.\

A first step to building trust in a diverse group is to have members look for similarities. For many people, our natural tendency is to sort for differences or first look at all the ways we are different. And this is especially common when differences are outwardly apparent. Yet, in most groups, even culturally and ethnically diverse groups, members are, at their core, more similar than they are different.

Once a foundation of similarities has been built, it is possible to begin moving up the ladder from judging differences to truly valuing those differences. The Integro Trust Model™ is a tool for helping do this.

Four Behaviors that Build Trust

According to the Integro Trust Model, the four behaviors necessary to build trust are:

  • Acceptance: Respect others for who they are and what they believe; recognize and show appreciation for others. People who are strong in Acceptance are more understanding and forgiving of those who make mistakes.
  • Openness: Receptive to the ideas and opinions of others; willing to disclose information about themselves. People who are strong in Openness seek out input from others and engage in a two-way dialogue. They are willing to share their thoughts and especially their feelings.
  • Congruence: Straightforwardness. People who are strong in Congruence are straightforward. Their words and actions are aligned, and you always know where you stand with them. They are honest with themselves and others.
  • Reliability: Keep commitments and seek excellence. People who are strong in Reliability avoid over-committing. They won’t commit until they are sure they can do it to the best of their ability.

Imagine working on a team where team members have a high level of respect for each other and show appreciation for what each team member brings to the table. Where people are receptive to the ideas and opinions of others and willing to openly share their own ideas and thoughts. Where teammates’ words and actions are aligned, and there is a high level of honesty. Where everyone keeps their commitments and seeks excellence in all they do. What would it be like to be on this team? What could you accomplish?

Actions for Building Trust

Here are actions you can take (and encourage your team to take) to demonstrate Acceptance:

  • Show empathy and support for team members who are experiencing difficulties
  • Openly acknowledge other team member’s contributions to the team’s success
  • Ask for help from team members who have a strength in an area you don’t
  • Observe and acknowledge people for doing what’s right
  • Encourage and support team members in taking on stretch assignments

If you would like to learn more about the Integro Trust model and how you can use it to build trust on your team or within your organization, let’s talk.

 

POSTED ON: DiSC, Interpersonal Communication, Team Development
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