In the US, we have what is called Christmas in July which I love. I will play my holiday music and just imagine the wonderful feelings that swirl about during that season. But, there is another time of year that I love, too. The Fall which offers us Halloween. I was speaking with an associate Sophie Guerin, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Asia Pacific, Greater China & Japan at Dell, last week. I admire her for her D&I practices and commitment. I was sharing with her that I wrote a blog years ago about D&I and Halloween. She encouraged me to repost the article. What happens when the real you shows up, as the picture demonstrates? Diversity and inclusion is about embracing all…
Lately, I have participated in many women events, which I thoroughly enjoy. In short, the gender differences are about diversity and inclusion. When I train on D&I, I examine the full spectrum of diversity by utilizing a Dimensions of Diversity Grid to help participants make sense of the variances and impact of each factor. I will explore with attendees their values and beliefs that support stereotypes, misperceptions, miscommunication, and other barriers that are a hindrance to embracing and adopting diversity and inclusionary best practices. My D&I presentation improves performance and productivity by helping professionals in creating an environment that fosters trust, respect, appreciation for diversity and improving results through positive behavioral changes.
So, with that I wrote a blog about my diversity and inclusion presentation and how I was sitting there thinking about that when my mind jumped to the next day which was going to be Halloween. I started thinking about how I also needed to get ready for the few Trick-er-Treaters who would grace my door step. One year, I gave Sun Chips. I thought I was doing something novel; however, it embarrassed my youngest son. He believed that kids only wanted candy. I disagreed and I thought that I would top that year by giving away an avocado (just joking, but I do love avocados). Seriously, I was sitting there feeling pressure about what to give away because whatever I gave away, I needed to like it so that I would eat whatever was left. But, to be honest the professional in me wanted to give a treat that will leave a positive impression on the Trick-er-Treaters.
Now, what does Halloween festivities and diversity have in common and why am I sitting her tripping? Heck, why am I even writing about diversity and even thinking about Halloween? In my head it’s quite simple. Halloween is the one singular day out of the year where we welcome people with differences. No, seriously…we reward and embrace people for being as different as their creativity can take them. The more different the person appears to be; the more we applaud and marvel at their creativity on that one singular day. However, at work or within other professional organizations the more different a person looks or think, we ostracize him/her. We are more comfortable with people conforming and fitting our preconceived norms and expectations. What if we allowed people to dress differently at work, share their unconventional thoughts and walk to a different beat? I think organizations would accomplish greater results.
When my son and I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, nearly two years ago we dressed up for Halloween. I dressed up as a cheerleader and my son dressed up or down as a guy taking a shower. That night was amazing looking at all the customs. My son won 1000 MYR for his custom at LeNoir Club. He has always been a different sort of guy that was either met with disdain or appreciation. That night he was celebrated for his diversity. I shared with a potential client that I’m an outlier: uk /ˈaʊtˌlaɪ.ər/ /-ɚ/ a person, thing, or fact that is very different from other people, things, or facts, so that it cannot be used to draw general conclusions. I know that I am different and I have found that my philosophy and thoughts sometimes are counterintuitive, but it has led to immense success for me. That is both a blessing and a curse when building a business, and I know that it is met with resistance when employees attempt to be different during the normal 9 to 5. I often say that companies hire you for what you offer and fire you for who you are.
Some will say, “but your unwritten rules philosophy is about conformity”. Yes and no, my unwritten rules philosophy is about choices. There is a game that permeates everything and everywhere which is a playing field that represents a culture. But, what I am talking about when it comes to diversity and inclusion is far different. It is not a rule but rather a practice. Honoring differences is what diversity and inclusion is all about. Finding a way to have your needs met while honoring and embracing other people’s need for inclusion. It’s not just about race, gender, age, etc. it’s about giving people space to be who they are and to bring to the table their whole self.
Here are few things you should consider to be truly inclusive:
- When you become uncomfortable with a person or action, do you cease to engage them and cut off the connection? This means you are limiting your growth potential. Where you feel most uncomfortable is where you should ask yourself why am I feeling this way and what will it take for me to push past this feeling. Don’t disengage move in closer.
- Do you rely on policy and regulations to justify an action or practice that many or others don’t support or think is unfair? When we are not able to truly justify something, we go to the handbook. That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it so. If you want to really engage your employees or peers, rely on your gut instinct and do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Listen to their needs and rationale to find a way to be more inclusive.
- Are you drawn to people who you seem to naturally connect with at work? This too will limit your ability to be inclusive, but more importantly if you surround yourself only with people who mirror you, then you will limit the unlimited opportunities to move your career forward. Your current and inner circle can’t possibly have everything you need. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace people who are different than yourself with the ability to bring you diversity in thought, opportunities and other connections.
Halloween in Spring is my new thing and I hope you will join me in celebrating differences and valuing inclusion. Let’s not wait until October to allow others to be their true authentic self. For more information on me and my products please review our website and contact me directly at indigo@4-DPerformance.com.