Cultivating Diversity, Tips for Business
Guest blog by Nicole Orsua, Economic & Tourism Development specialist
Culture is a lens we view the world through, something that has been shaped by both our genetic make-up and surrounding environment. It can be both inherited and embraced, consisting of tangible and intangible elements. Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. Which is an extended way to say that culture is a complex living system intwined in the eco-system of humanity. But let’s explore culture through the metaphor of the eco-system of a garden bed.
For a garden to grow and thrive, there needs to be harmony of multiple players. Soil, water, and sunlight are just the foundations of a successful garden eco-system. Birds, bees and bugs also play an integral role in the success and health of the variety of fruits and vegetables that grow. They are simultaneously pollinators, decomposers that replenish the soil and consumers. Without diversity in the eco-system, an imbalance can occur which is detrimental to a garden's health. Extending the metaphor, cultural diversity is required for balance in eco-system of humanity.
Now in today’s climate, cultural diversity is a buzz word, something that is touted by politicians to get votes, trotted out by corporations to appease public relation scandals, and talked about by social media influencers. These are optical illusions like greenwashing and are superficial at best. One of Regeneration Projects’ impact pillars is Cultural Diversity & Innovation. The impact pillars were created to support business' transformation to embrace a regenerative mindset. So, the million-dollar question is: how do we cultivate diversity within our team, customers, partners and community? Session 4 of Regeneration Projects' Roadmap helps you identify specific cultures that your business connects with, and then builds a framework for measurement and reporting. Below are some examples on how to integrate cultural diversity into your business framework.
By participating in a culture identification exercise you can create a list of the communities you are connected to, as well as the ones you are not. Just because you are not connected to a culture doesn’t mean you can’t create the platform for them. Recently on social media the #passthemic campaign was launched in the wake of #blacklivesmatter protests in the US and across the globe. In this movement companies and influencers handed over their social media platforms to members of the black community, black business owners, scholars, artists, and influencers. Since then, the movement has extended from fighting for gender equality, to scientists and even doctors regarding COVID-19.
One way to build diversity is to ensure your work culture and/or products are inclusive. This can be done by integrating inclusive language into your documents and workplace vocabulary. Inclusive language is an important way to support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Inclusivity can also apply to your product. US-based online shoe company Zappos recently began to sell single and different shoe size pairs, as a way to include people with different abilities.
One of the most important ways an organization can ensure their cultural diversity goals are not merely for optics, is by putting their money where their mouth is. In other words, ensure their workforce from entry level employees to the C-Suite represent diverse members of the community. Organizations that build diversity goals and report on their success with transparency showcase that their commitment to diversity goes beyond good publicity. Intrepid Travel is an example of an organization that laid out specific goals and reports on their achievements in reaching gender equality.