In this era of constant change in the workplace, transformation — a thorough or dramatic change — is essential for businesses to succeed.
A few weeks ago, the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos focused on global issues around sustainability, economic growth and resilience, globalization, and geopolitics. Undeniably, we live in a world where all of these things are impacting and putting tremendous pressure on organizations. To address these issues, organizations need to transform in some way, shape, or form over the next one to three years, and certainly within the next five years.
However, in order to transform, you need to be open and challenge the status quo with new, different, and opposing perspectives and points of view because that is the only way that you can uncover your blind spots. Eliminate old bad habits that aren’t serving you well and change dramatically enough to improve those behaviors for moving both your organization — and you — forward.
There’s no way to uncover those blind spots and embrace new points of view if you do not focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). By definition, diversity, equity, and inclusion seek perspectives and opinions on which you haven’t typically relied. Finding people who don’t think, behave, and possess the same worldview that you and everyone in your organization have will be paramount.
Undoubtedly, race is especially important – and although that is true year-round, Black History Month is a good opportunity to remind us of that. But frankly, whether it’s different races, genders, sexual orientation, religions, physical and mental capacities, backgrounds, life experiences, or professional expertise, it’s critical to invite people with various perspectives into your organization.
Here are four ways to eliminate your company’s echo chamber and focus on DE&I for robust, dramatic change.
UNDERSTAND YOUR SAMENESS
It’s important to know your echo and make sure you’re not functioning in a bubble. Understand what reinforces your existing worldview.
For example, in social media, this reverberation occurs when users tend to engage with like-minded peers, thereby reflecting and reinforcing their thoughts and perspectives.
The more you have sameness in your organization — either with your employees, leaders, customers, suppliers, and the communities you operate within your key stakeholders — the more that these things resemble each other, the more your old ways of working are reverberating. Your old habits will echo around you and reinforce your current form. You should:
- Identify where and how your reverberation is happening and what causes it.
- Where are you the same?
- Where are you lacking in diversity of thought, race, gender, and sexual orientation?
IDENTIFY THE GAPS
Once you’ve identified the sameness, it’s important to discover what type of challenges can burst that insulated bubble.
- Determine the voices, different perspectives, and opinions you need and where you need them.
- Where might you be lacking perspective in having backgrounds either in types of people or employees, leadership, customers, suppliers, and key stakeholders?
INVITE PEOPLE IN
Proactively invite people to fill the space. Different kinds of individuals will disrupt the reverberation. Dismantling the echo chamber by adding new perspectives and new points of view will open up new possibilities and new ideas to help you transform.
- Seek different people and invite them.
- Ask them what they think and ask them to contribute to the work.
- Listen to what they bring to the table.
- Be open to what they think and say.
- Let it shape your future so you can truly transform.
CHALLENGE THE SYSTEM
You need to challenge the status quo if you’re going to change dramatically. New, different, and opposing points of view and perspectives are the only way to uncover your blind spots.
- Ask people to listen, be open, and build a sense of self-confidence and agility.
- Keep people grounded. Help those who have the same voices and listen to other voices.
- Challenge your own assumptions.
- Cultivate a culture of confidence and comfort — it’s okay to challenge what you think and felt, it’s not personal.
Proactively seeking new ideas and possibilities are transformative for both the organization and the individual. If you don’t challenge the status quo and disrupt your echo chamber, transformation cannot happen – or it will happen more slowly.
The work that needs to happen to transform through a DEI program focuses on understanding. The world is putting a lot of pressure on every organization to change dramatically and in order to do that, you need to open yourself up to diverse perspectives, opinions, experiences, and everything that makes companies wonderfully unique.