Promote diversity—and benefit from its richness

8 ways managers can help their teams prevent misunderstandings and promote mutual respect

Today, business journals such as Forbes are highlighting how essential workplace diversity is for a thriving business. The global economy relies on a diverse chorus of voices, and companies that realize it have a competitive edge over those that don’t. Diverse team members who have learned to appreciate each other get more done and do it better. The kind of diversity that brings together people from different cultural, racial and generational experiences allow for a rich pool of both innovative and “old school” ideas.

Given the importance of a diverse workforce, how exactly can we promote inclusivity to benefit from its richness? An important beginning is to acknowledge what can get in the way. Perhaps the most challenging obstacle is one that’s hidden: unconscious bias.

As humans, we are inherently biased. Without this cognitive short-cut we couldn’t make the quick, life-saving decisions that our ancestors had to make, like “Is this person my friend, or should I run like crazy because I’m about to be attacked?!” This unconscious filter can make us assume how others “should” be, and can lead to disrespectful and dismissive behavior towards them—unintentionally, and at times, intentionally.


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