Creating a Culture of Inclusiveness – Blog post by Sharon Johnson
DNA’s latest Shine the Light Nonprofit Forum, “Accelerating Organizational Effectiveness with an Increasingly Diverse Team” provided us with the opportunity to focus on different types of diversity, the importance of having a diverse team, and how to purposefully develop a diverse staff.
Local consultants Debbie Nelson and Tan Kirby Davis conducted the workshop. Davis began by sharing ways to embrace experiential, generational and behavioral differences, and how these attributes can enhance organizational effectiveness.
During the Behind the Scenes Conversations, led by Ms. Davis, between Josh Bell – Executive Director of Teach for America South Carolina and Beverly Ward, President of Talent Management, we gathered insight into their experiences and perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Mr. Bell encouraged us to make an effort to reach beyond regular audiences, to” recruit at different spots on a college campus”. Ms. Ward recommended giving staff members opportunities to broaden their viewpoint by including them in meetings and trips in other parts of the company or world.
After each section Speed Insights were given – Community leaders who have experience creating diverse teams summarized the topics just discussed. They reinforced these ideas by focusing on them and adding their own perspective.
More viewpoints and experiences were shared during Innovation Labs which were held throughout the Warehouse Theatre building and were facilitated by a diverse group of community leaders. Observations shared included:
- “The pathway to diversity can feel like a moon shot and may be a long distance, slow process.”
- “You may encounter those who don’t want to change and that may be stressful.”
- “In the long run, it will feel like being a part of a great winning team.”
- “There will be tension and conflict. Learn how to manage it and work through it,”
- “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
In the end, we learned that creating a diverse staff and board must be intentional. We must create a culture of inclusiveness, so everyone feels included, respected, and supported. And that diversity includes those of different ethnicities, ages, genders, physical abilities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, philosophies, nationalities, work styles and even those with behaviors like ADHD or Asperger Syndrome.
The result is a team of independent thinkers who have different viewpoints and experiences to share that will create a rich dialogue and creative ideas to accelerate your organization forward.
Sharon Johnson is a former engineer that is using her managerial skills and analytical thinking towards making this world a better place. She is currently the AmeriCorps VISTA Team Lead at United Way of Greenville County.