We are delighted to have Mia Barnes, the Editor-in-Chief at Mind+Body, as our guest writer for this week’s blog post. With her deep understanding of fostering inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, Mia brings valuable insights on how to amplify marginalized voices to enhance collaboration. In her thought-provoking article, Mia explores the significance of diversity, the challenges faced by underrepresented groups, and practical strategies for creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment. Join us as we delve into Mia’s empowering perspective on embracing diversity and elevating all voices in the pursuit of collaborative success.
Collaboration is an essential part of any business. You and your team must come together to solve problems and implement creative solutions, but maybe you’re not getting the desired results. One person might contribute all the ideas while others stay silent or your group keeps coming up with the same proposals that don’t yield new results.
Lack of motivation or intelligence might not be the issue. You may need more diversity on your team. How diverse are your employees, and how does this contribute to connectivity, innovation and collaboration?
What Are Marginalized Voices?
Some people don’t experience any resistance when expressing their viewpoints and suggestions in the workplace. As a result, they may not fully understand the adversity that certain groups face when trying to communicate their points. People who are often listened to in the workplace have a position of privilege, likely because the boardroom all thinks or looks similarly.
Those who may not get the chance to contribute as often or at all in their workplace are marginalized voices. They typically belong to groups that are not the focus of society and often go unheard. With more empathy, businesses can invite them to collaborate with others, creating a diverse decision-making team that can implement creative solutions and make everyone feel heard and respected.
The value of diverse points of view can lead to unique solutions that benefit people and organizations, as well as minimize potential conflict.
Some groups this term may include the following:
- LGBTQ+ people
- People of color
- People with disabilities
- Senior citizens
Often, these individuals are afraid to speak up for themselves in fear of getting branded negatively in their workplace, so it’s up to the people with privilege to speak up for them in many situations. Inequality in the workplace can affect many more people than you might think. For example, for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns about 79 cents, but Black women only earn 64 cents. Embracing diversity and listening to voices that have been marginalized for too long can help your workplace be more creative and inclusive.
Three Ways You’ll See Collaboration Improve in the Office
You can see a difference in your workplace when you prioritize voices that may not have been heard before. Amplifying those who have been ignored can ensure your business is a friendly, accepting and supportive environment. Above all, it can encourage people to work together, inside and outside of the company. Here are some other benefits an organization can reap by embracing and uplifting all employees.
1. More Opportunities for Connection Between People
Each person on a team is an asset. All employees should be allowed to prove themselves and improve their skills. By being given a fair shot at a certain position, everyone can fully lean into who they are and what they bring to the table without fear — and they could also benefit the business. For example, multilingual team members might be able to communicate with a company you desire to work with but cannot speak with fluently.
Working with your team to amplify marginalized voices can make other employees feel more comfortable opening up about their skills, which could benefit everyone in the long run. They’ll start to feel like they’re part of the group rather than just another worker. In addition to connecting with other businesses, you’ll also build connections between your team members.
Your work in advocating for all voices to be heard in the workplace might inspire others. Businesses may follow your lead, and you could encourage people. Simply seeing people in leadership roles can inspire children to pursue the same thing — likely because they see themselves in that leader.
2. More Creative Solutions
New workplace perspectives can lead to varied solutions. Sometimes, a boardroom full of people with the same background may not be able to solve a problem because they have similar outlooks. In that case, people from all backgrounds — including those whose voices may have traditionally been silenced — can contribute something important to the discussion.
Seek to diversify your decision-making team if implementing unique solutions is important to you. People from different backgrounds will offer creative answers, including those that may work with ideas you already had.
A more diverse team leads to better-made decisions that include everyone, increasing collaboration in your meeting room. People can help make decisions without the bias a workplace might have if everyone looked the same. Inclusiveness makes companies more likely to embrace different solutions and try new things. Plus, you can encourage employees to work with people whose opinions differ or that they may not have considered before.
3. Better Cultural Awareness
Workers exposed to diversity may seek it in their personal lives. Advocating for marginalized voices at a company might lead to volunteer opportunities or activism to support those same voices elsewhere. For example, an employee who learns more from someone who may have experienced homelessness may have a greater appreciation for that struggle and volunteer at a shelter. They may sign petitions for marginalized groups online or advocate for them in lawmaking when they understand what they can bring to the table.
Employees exposed to inclusivity for the first time at work may start to examine their worldviews or the area they live in. They can begin to look through a wider lens and make the world fair for everyone, in the workplace and beyond. They can start to look at incorrect assumptions they’ve made about certain groups and rewire that part of their thinking. Including all viewpoints, especially those that may not have been respected previously, encourages team members to learn to work with people from different backgrounds.
How to Advocate for a Diverse Workplace
You don’t have to be a hiring manager to advocate for more diversity in your workplace. Anyone can make a difference by speaking up for marginalized voices, especially if they are in a position of privilege. Try these innovative solutions to embrace diversity in your company.
Speak up for Others
If you notice someone doing an excellent job, recommend them for a promotion. Use your privilege to advocate for people who may not have the same opportunities or be taken as seriously. Pass on an advancement if you notice someone else is better suited to it than you are. Honesty can build trust in the workplace, and you’ll surely find an opportunity for your skills to shine.
Suggest a Diversity Team
A team fully committed to analyzing diversity in the workplace ensures business owners value input and get suggestions from everyone. A diversity team is an innovation that could benefit every workplace, regardless of size, because it helps build your company on a foundation where everyone feels welcomed and never judged. These team members can devote themselves to finding gaps in your current policies and procedures to improve your business.
Amplify Marginalized Voices for a Collaborative Workplace
A diverse business helps people feel safer. Furthermore, you may find that more clients want to work with you when your priorities shift to include everyone, even those commonly marginalized. You can improve your company by having more perspectives and rest assured that your employees feel valued.