Unconscious bias exists everywhere. It can often seep into the workplace, and influence how a business is run and how decisions are made. We, as human beings and as business-owners, tend to favor ideas that are similar to ours, and people who are seemingly similar to us.
Opening up to new ideas and connecting with those who are seemingly “different” than us may seem daunting at first, however, as a business-owner and as an individual, we have to be open and welcoming to new ideas, diversity, and change.
If we are closed off to diversity, we are missing the opportunity for innovation and creativity, progressive thinking, unique skills and talents, and we are missing out on the opportunity to really connect with people, and make a difference.
So, how can we ensure we are being inclusive leaders?
Awareness of Unconscious Bias
As a leader, becoming aware of unconscious bias is an important component of inclusivity in the workplace. Forming biases and judgments of other people and ideas that seem “different” than what we are used to is so ingrained in us and happens so naturally that we may not be fully aware of it. Awareness is key.
Start with yourself as the leader of the team. Challenge yourself, from now on, to notice your biases. Question these thoughts. Ask yourself why you are creating these judgements, and how they are affecting your decision-making process in your business. Is your team diverse? Are you constantly shooting down certain ideas that make you uncomfortable? Try to nip these thoughts in the bud, and become more open to different ways of thinking and acting.
Also, as the leader of the team, it is your job to call attention to unconscious bias that you are witnessing. Does everyone on your team have a voice? Are everyone’s thoughts and opinions considered valuable? Are your services being offered and marketed to a diverse clientele? Create awareness in the workplace.
Open Communication and Support
Open communication is another key component of inclusivity. Open communication amongst a team ensures that everyone feels that they are heard and valued. Check in with your team often. Ask open-ended questions. Ask for feedback. Feedback gives you an opportunity to reflect on how you are doing your job leading the team.
Offer support. Life and work can be overwhelming at times, for everyone. Your teammates are not mechanical robots. Every person on your team is an individual human being with individual struggles. Check in with everybody once a week. When people feel supported, they are more likely to be motivated to help others and be innovative with their work and their ideas. Innovative thinking and motivation to help others creates an inclusive environment.
Foster Innovative and Creative Thinking
Foster creativity and innovation. Your team should be aware that you are encouraging their creative and innovative thinking. Set some time aside for sharing ideas. A combination of different ideas creates a diverse approach to running a business. Be receptive to new ideas.
Hire a diverse set of people – this provides your team with diverse talent. You don’t want a team of robots. You want a team of individuals, who, with their ideas put together, can create something truly amazing and impactful. When you hire people to work with you, you have to be open to hearing their thoughts and ideas, and envisioning what they envision for the company. You did choose to work with others, afterall. Be a part of the team that you created.
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and step into a CEO role, contact the Virtual CFO group!