Hey everyone! This is a co-written Blog by Freya Shah and Arrad Mostafa. For those of you that are reading one of my blogs for the first time, I will be a sophomore at Woburn CI, and Arrad will be a Senior at Sir Wilfrid Laurier CI come September! Today's blog will be on Diversity and Inclusion within a professional environment. In September, we will also be hosting a conference on Stress Management and Productivity, so we will also be incorporating how Diversity and Inclusion will play a role in our event.
If you are interested in taking part in our workshop, please reach out to Arrad or I on LinkedIn and we will be happy to accommodate you! (Click our names at the beginning of the blogs for our LinkedIn Profiles!)
Diversity and inclusion play a big role in professional environments. Diversity refers to the acceptance of multiple identities and individuals in a specific scenario or company. It is important to incorporate diversity into your workplace and organization as every employee brings something different to the table. Diversity also means that people come from different backgrounds. This results in multiple thought processes or ideas that can potentially assist the company/organization in their projects or plans. Having a diverse set of employees also shows to your customers that you are open to all identities and that you are against any form of discrimination. This will cause you to also build your reputation in the community, attract loyal customers, and increase your network.
Inclusion refers to taking into account all the different contributions you may have from members of the team. As diversity refers to various identities and unique individuals, different views are inevitable. It's important to understand that no perspective is ever wrong, and so including all ideas is extremely important. When conversing and addressing issues, a way to promote inclusion is to give all participants the opportunity to share their opinions and contribute to the discussion. If you are ever in a situation where an individual is being excluded, try to ask them direct questions or change the topic to something they are passionate about.
Universal accessibility refers to the design of workplaces to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, gender, disabilities, race, or any other factors and attributes. According to the University of Buffalo, “universal design is legally required to ensure that our work and learning environments are accessible for individuals with disabilities, and we understand that accessibility is essential to an inclusive environment.” If you are to incorporate universal design in your workplace, it will also incentivize employees to stay at the company for a prolonged period of time and therefore grow their loyalty. Along with the infrastructure, you can provide benefits to your employees for their accessibility needs. Benefits allow people to work more efficiently, and so this could potentially lead to higher productivity rates within the company. A good thing to remember is that Inclusion + Usability + Accessibility = Universal Design. Since our conference will be held in an online environment, we will incorporate universal accessibility by making sure that all group members are given an equal amount of time to demonstrate their opinion on the case studies provided.
Team Dynamics refer to "a system of behaviors and psychological processes occurring within a social group, or between social groups." In order to maintain a positive working environment, it is crucial to agree upon some teamwork dynamics. For example, one of your dynamics could be diversity and inclusion. As the team has a unanimous agreement on this dynamic, it is essential that they follow it. It is everybody’s responsibility within the group to accept diverse opinions and personalities, as well as to incorporate them into the project or issue at hand. If you are leading a group, it is your responsibility to keep in mind the various strengths and weaknesses of your employees so that you can assign tasks to the most suited individuals. Refer to the image on the left for more teamwork dynamic examples.
Equality vs. Equity
You may have heard these two words before, but do you know the difference? Equality is when each individual is given the same amount of “help” and “support.” Equity, on the contrary, is when individuals are given different amounts of support so that they all can reach an equal potential. Take a look at the picture on the right, and analyze it. When equity was performed, all three individuals reached their goal, whereas in equality, some surpassed the goal while some were left behind. As a member of the workplace, it is your responsibility to observe individuals and help those who aren't receiving the amount of support they need. Not only will it build a sense of acceptance in the workplace, but it will also drastically increase productivity.
How will our conference incorporate these aspects?
We will incorporate diversity by advertising our conference to individuals, regardless of their gender or race via social media and online platforms. During our conference, we will respect all attendees and encourage participation. We will incorporate inclusion by allowing all participants to speak and contribute for an equal amount of time. We have also planned various activities, such as an anonymous jam board, so that each attendee can contribute their ideas without feeling shy. We understand that different people take different amounts of time to become comfortable with new groups, and therefore an anonymous jam board will encourage well-rounded participation. As stated before, our conference will be held in an online environment. We will incorporate universal accessibility by making sure that all group members are given an equal amount of time to demonstrate their opinion on the case studies provided. Finally, we intend to come up with a list of teamwork dynamics and ground rules during the conference itself. We will take inputs from all attendees, making sure to encourage unanimous agreement.
So, that's all from us today! We hope you had some takeaways from our work! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Freya Shah or Arrad Mostafa. Thank you for taking the time to read our post today, and we hope you have a great day:)