On the Job

How to celebrate uniqueness at work

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”

The words from this unknown author couldn’t ring more true in a time when diversity and inclusion are paramount.

A Pew Research Center study shows that by 2055, the U.S. won’t have a single racial or ethnic majority. Yet, Americans say the increase of ethnic diversity makes it a better place to live. Could you say the same at your business?

Decades of research by scientists, psychologists, economists and other experts prove that socially diverse groups – those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation – are more innovative than homogeneous groups, according to the Scientific American.

It’s as easy as breathing in oxygen when you remember these two things about recognizing diversity at your company: knowing who you are and celebrating not just your uniqueness, but everyone’s.

“First you need to discover your own unconscious bias, with the aim to shift to conscious inclusion,” said Victoria Belkhyate, a leader of diversity and inclusion efforts at Unum Group, Colonial Life’s parent company.

Take a minute and think about your network, the people you hang out with and those you talk to at work. Who’s there? If it’s a group of people just like you, consider taking a step out of your “comfort zone” and strike up conversation with someone new.

Curiosity to learn more about a person through respectful conversation that gives insight into your differences may go a long way. Find ways to embrace diversity across the workplace.

This isn’t just an individual thing either. More and more companies are recognizing and elevating the value of inclusion, and are taking steps to be sure the company culture follows suit. Some organizations — including AT&T and Dell — are organizing groups called Employee Resource Groups to lead the way in this effort

“Employee Resource Groups empower employees they serve as a resource for fostering diverse workspaces, and unite members around a shared value of inclusion,” Belkhyate said. “They represent great opportunities to learn, too, and figure out how, as a company, we can align with our employees.”

Intricately connected, companies are also investing in talent programs to accelerate the career development of diverse, high potential leaders.

“Embracing diversity in our organization allows us to better understand the needs of our customers and reflects the communities around us,” Belkhyate said. “It brings out the best in our people and reflects our commitment to be inclusive.”

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