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Leading in a Diverse Workplace

Canopy EAP
Leading in a Diverse Workplace_Canopy blog Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—three words you hear daily in the workplace. It's not unusual for companies to invest in expensive diversity training events. It's also not unusual for these efforts to yield little results and sometimes negative backlash. As a result, employees become increasingly frustrated with corporate culture and, in some cases, end up leaving.

Diversity Opportunities

Having a variety of cultures, opinions, and experience can bring new perspectives, innovative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. However, this variety can also lead to miscommunication and disagreements that might lead to conflicts in the workplace. For example, if you accidentally offend someone by not understanding the element that makes that individual a diverse member of your workforce, offer an immediate and sincere apology. Explain that you didn’t understand or recognize the root of the issue. If someone says something offensive to you, consider that they might not be aware of the diversity issues at hand. Calmly explain why their actions or language was inappropriate.

Enhancing Communication

Oftentimes, differences are so apparent that they can dominate our immediate impressions and weigh heavily on our reactions, interactions and behavior. Through the development of the working relationship, professionalism, and workplace coaching, those differences can be modified, allowing positive working relationships to form.

Here are some basic rules of communication to help those with differences interact with each other:

· Avoid commenting on the cultural, ethnic or racial background, or sexual orientation of a coworker.
· Actively listen to what is said, pay attention to others, and look out for the visual cues that indicate how well the exchange is going. Be responsive and engaged in the conversation.
· Avoid casual, off-color comments or jokes that might be offensive or that poke fun at others.

Leadership Must Define Equity

Without a clear picture of what equity should look like, any program will become fragmented and disconnected. A leadership team needs to take the time to define equity, create clear goals, and design a plan to achieve those goals. A culture change cannot happen unless it is a leadership priority.

· Lead by example.
· Engage with everyone.
· Gently introduce conversations.
· Implement programs, training events and coaching sessions to promote a learning environment.
· Be willing to implement independent representation to reveal problem areas.

Team Inclusion

No matter what the element is that makes someone diverse, every individual in the workplace wants to be appreciated for their performance, professionalism, and personal success. When labels and stereotypes are allowed to become workplace identities, they can impede the sense of accomplishment and purpose.

If you are a Canopy Member and interested in Canopy’s continued education and micro-training programs, log into the Canopy Member Website at

Excerpts provided by Life Advantages and Delvina Miremadi
Canopy EAP Canopy was founded in 1975 and we have been providing Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services since 1978. Canopy's mission is to support organizational success and improve quality of lives. Canopy provides member groups' employees and family members a comprehensive, full service EAP with a focus on customer service, technology, outcomes and integrated wellness. In addition, Canopy supports our employer partners with tools such as Wellness, Digital Therapy, Coaching and Training.