Start building a more diverse workplace today
Studies have shown that women speak less in meetings than men, and are less likely to ask for a pay rise. At our current rate of progress, it will take eighty years for women to reach equal representation at an executive level. That's not fast enough — and it's only one facet of diversity.
At FEW, we're all about the positive progression of women. And in order to do that, we need to look for the positive progression of all people. We don't look at diversity as a quota to be filled. We care about genuine diversity. That means building culturally safe, intelligent workplaces.
Be aware of your organisation's culture
The benefits of having diverse workplaces are clear. They are more innovative, have higher productivity and greater cohesion. But hiring a wide range of people is only the start. You need to understand how people from all backgrounds can work effectively together and build a culturally safe environment.

In order to start building diversity, you need to know where your organisation stands. Start asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is your organisation hierarchical or flat in structure?
  • How do you communicate? Is your communication style direct or indirect?
  • What is your decision-making process? Your problem-solving process?
It's only through knowing yourself and your organisation that you can identify potential clashes or blockers for genuine diversity.

"If I do something where you feel like your idea isn't being heard, why would you speak up?" asks Sunaina Vij, our cultural intelligence coach. "Maybe you come from a culture where you wouldn't say something in front of ten people. If I recognise that, I might meet you one on one, instead."
Know when to flip the script
We can't expect new results when we keep doing the same thing.

Organisations need to have inbuilt strategies to build space for diversity if they want to take it seriously. If an organisation really wants to make a change, it has to be aware of its own culture and the cultural expectations placed on the people within it.

"Does the culture of my organisation support certain people to speak up, or do I need to change the framework for them?" asks Sunaina. Instead of asking an individual to contribute more, it may be more effective to ask for anonymous input instead. "At first it may seem tedious, but once you know how it works, it works wonderfully."
Start acting
Building a more diverse workplace takes work. You need to understand the gaps in your own knowledge, your own biases and how your existing systems serve the status quo. But it's critical work to do. In our Adaptive Global Leaders & Super Teams program, we teach participants how to start building their cultural intelligence in four ways:

  1. Motivation — we call this your cultural quotient. How willing are you to adapt? We may have the same knowledge but react differently in different situations. Some of us might be really motivated to adapt, others might be more rigid. You need to know where you fall in this — and be realistic. You may be more rigid than you think.

  2. Cognition — what do you know about the cultures you're working with? This could be your organisation's culture. How well do you really understand it? Do you follow hierarchy or is it more egalitarian? Is communication direct or indirect? When we don't know things about our culture, it's very hard to work together.

  3. Metacognition — start unpacking our own thinking. You need to consciously think about your baggage and biases. You might understand what you know, but what don't you know? Start identifying gaps in your areas of expertise.

  4. Behaviour — this is all about turning the above into tangible, strategic action. How are you strategising? You have the knowledge, but how are you going to put this to use?

Sunaina Vij is the cultural intelligence coach in our Adaptive Global Leaders & Super Teams program. You can learn more about adapting to different cultures — and building your organisation's cultural awareness — by registering for our program today.