Apr 6, 2020
In our first blog Driving a Virtually Inclusive Culture , we explored our passion for leaders to pay extra special attention and focus on inclusivity, right now, when we are physically separated and working virtually. The challenges of inclusion and diversity do not go away just because the working landscape has shifted to be virtual. In fact, they become more difficult. We challenged our readers to absorb the concepts of two great books, The Loudest Duck – Moving Beyond Diversity While Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work by Laura Liswood, and The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” by Amy C. Edmondson. We examined the books’ synergistic concepts around the organizational and cultural dynamics that hinder inclusiveness, and how leaders must create an environment where people are comfortable speaking up, which is critical to gaining the true value of business inclusion and diversity of thought. We also spent time looking into our past work lives to delve into authentic examples of how communication and leadership styles and approaches can positively or negatively affect your company’s inclusive culture, which you can listen to in our Podcast.
Now that these concepts have been identified, we would like to thrash out, in a little more detail, the importance of communications. We all understand that communications are critical, but what are the possible barriers, opportunities and actions we can take to be inclusive and diverse in this new virtual working environment?
Due to COVID-19, we have shifted how we communicate and not by choice. Citing “The Loudest Duck”, there is always a dominant group, the elephant, and a non-dominant group, the mouse, in every virtual engagement. As such, everyone brings with them their unconscious biases, their ‘Story’. The elephants are not necessarily in their comfort zone, now, and the mice are not able to rely on their usual observations to gauge the elephant’s behavior. And relative to their unconscious biases, during this time, there will be a lot of ‘stories’ that people will surface and newly create as a result of this new reality of virtualness.
Inclusive behavior is much more difficult remotely, because you cannot always see or sense the body language in the room. This is a valid concern. However, our technology is much more advanced today, making remote communications with high integrity not only possible but highly effective. As we use technology in our current virtual world, there is a need and an opportunity to integrate certain practices for inclusivity. Here are some recommended inclusive actions:
We all know that communication (style/approach/frequency/etc.) is an aspect that could either promote or hinder inclusiveness. However, there is an opportunity to bring people together with the intention to provide clarity in expectations, define purpose and connect people to possibilities based on their passions, which was learned from the check-ins and inquiries from individuals. Here are some recommended actions:
This is a time of uncertainty, not only at work, but at home. Everyone is impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. There are fears of the unknown. What success looked like two weeks ago, may not be what it looks like now. Therefore, transparency is key with the absolute need for overcommunications. Opportunities clearly exist in this current reality shift to a virtual working environment and inclusivity of people’s differences will play a big role in capitalizing on these opportunities. Here are some recommended actions:
Clearly, these times are unprecedented and not “business as usual.” The lack of normalcy has people fearful of the unknown. However, there is also opportunity to set the stage for a culture where everyone is heard and included, where walls of the old (the way we have always done it) are torn down and organizations can foster a culture of new.
Please check out our Podcast and stay tuned for our future blog on Leadership in an Inclusive Virtual World.
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