Diversity and Inclusion: A futuristic view.

Diversity and inclusion are topics that are very important and have had a lot of focus lately… Lately, until we all started to be locked down. Every country, every company has been trying to fight for themselves and suddenly, we all start to be selfish again…

Even though falling back on hold ‘habits’ might be understandable in some cases, it never is the answer to retreat, stay and work only with people we know, people who are like us…

So, for companies who are (re) thinking about their organization and how to adapt to the new normal, the need for diversity in the workplace is being felt now more than ever. To keep up the pace, companies ought to have adequate clarity on the skills they expect their talent pools to possess, especially in such situations as we face now.  

What does it mean to have a ‘diverse’ workforce? 

When we talk about diversity, we often think first of women in the workplace. Research has shown that the increase of women in leadership is helping businesses to thrive in unprecedented ways. Women see things differently and have different strengths than men. Women have more prominently exhibited the intuitive abilities of persons who can reach out to others to resolve issues or reduce friction; in comparison to men. How do the traits of being multi-skilled, multi-tasking, problem solver, influencer or bringing people together, keeping energy levels up, maintaining a level-head, rank among the rest of the other professional traits? Can a company see value in these traits, that are more pronounced in women than in men?

Having a diverse workforce does not only mean having more women, especially in more senior roles. It means working with people that are different. Companies not only need people from different genders, but also with different backgrounds, different abilities, different status (married vs. single/divorced, with or without children), different ages, different personalities. If you have a global company, you also need to work with people from different nationalities (and languages), different cultures, different religions….

Having a diverse workforce means accepting differences, including people in discussions, in communications, in projects, etc. It means respecting others and their opinions. Of course, there will be disagreements once in a while, but who hasn’t got one? When two or more people disagree, they actually provide an opportunity to look for a workaround, another idea or solution. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market (Josh Bersin Research

Why should you have employees as diverse as possible? What are the benefits? 

According to the Boston Consulting Group, –  companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue. Advantages are not only seen from the employer’s point of view, but also from the employees’. According to Fast Company, organizations with above-average gender diversity and levels of employee engagement outperform companies with below-average diversity and engagement by 46% to 58%. 

Furthermore, we are now in a unique situation. There has never been a time before where 4 generations can work with each other! Boomers, GenX, Millennials and GenZ are currently on the job market. This is an opportunity for many companies to ensure they gather all points of view and meet customers’ needs, no matter their age. 

Global companies or companies that work in different countries need to ensure they have employees representing these countries or cultures. Something obvious for a person in one country may not be so obvious for another person in another country. People have different backgrounds, different histories, different habits and therefore a product or a service that is very successful in a country may need to be customized in another to meet the customers’ needs (or daily habits, legal requirements, etc.)

If you intend to serve ‘everybody’, you also need to make sure your product(s) and/or service(s) can also be used by people with different abilities. For instance, if your workforce are all mentally and physically able, how will you know for sure that someone in a wheelchair for instance will be able to use that product or service? When you already have employees in a wheelchair, they will tell you if there is any challenge before you start implementing or even creating your product or service.

Finally, when you have a diverse workforce, it also means you’ll have different personalities, with different opinions and ideas. This will give you an opportunity to create new or complementary things, things you may not have thought of at the beginning. Hiring and working with people from different backgrounds and life experiences give you diverse perspectives and understanding of people’s needs.

What can you do as a company?

Companies will have to adapt to this new world we are stepping into. This evolutionary process has to be inclusive of skillful people from all sorts of backgrounds, genders, races, demographics and physical abilities. Doing so, organizations may face challenges in accepting D&I. Resistance, fear, aversion to change, politics, insecurity etc. will appear here and there. Nonetheless, the inherent fullness and variety will naturally bring out the best possible path for the company to recover out of the crisis.

  • Start with recruiting diverse people: if you are looking for a certain profile, keep an open mind. Maybe someone does not have the ‘perfect profile’ or comes from a different industry. However if that person is motivated and willing to learn, he/she will be doing the job you wanted him/her to do and will often exceed expectations.
  • Mentor and support men AND women to help them get promoted and climb the corporate ladder. Encourage coaching, reverse mentoring so that people can get additional roles and responsibilities based on the value they can provide and not because they ‘fit the profile’ of the current organization.
  • Empower people. Give them tools, training, opportunities so that they can demonstrate their potential. 
  • Educate people in the workplace about the different cultures. Share the importance in celebrating / observing auspicious cultural festivals, food, dress and meaning behind certain behavior. The more people know about each other, the more open they become. Fear then diminishes. A greater awareness paves the way to healthier socialization in the workplace. It also enhances personal/workplace relationships.

 

Final thoughts

Looking forward, you need to decide how to include and keep the diversity numbers high. Think about the steps you need to take to welcome these individuals, to ensure they are engaged, included and not given a shadow treatment. Diversity and inclusion cannot be a one-time activity and neither can they be on a quota basis. QUOTAS cannot and should not be used to automate D&I. Diversity and inclusion should be the CULTURE. They should be a conscious decision supported by senior management, business relevance and benefit. 

Being a leader puts one under a constant scrutiny for the legacy he / she is creating. The actions and decisions of leaders during the difficult times are more prone to criticism and judgement in future. Would they be able to pass the tests of race, class, nationality and marginalized groups? To be or not to be diverse and inclusive, that is the question.(check one of my articles on how to embrace diversity.)

 

Article co-written with Nagaraj N.

Nagaraj N, as a HR leader, brings 20+ years into – creating and implementing, business specific tailored strategies for linking talent to value.

An architect behind 5 successful Tech. Start-ups, right from conceptualizing the HR blueprint, to scaling them up rapidly across 30+ countries and further leading them to successful mergers.

His strong business experience as a Board Director, as a Delivery Head & his inherent belief in culture & people, helps organizations maximise their returns on the talent.

This article was also published on Linkedin and on anchor.

How can we embrace diversity and increase inclusion?

Nowadays, diversity and inclusion are important topics as they rightly should be. Companies who want to be successful need to be as diverse as possible. Diverse teams and organizations achieve better performance because they are able to come up with different perspectives, ideas and solutions  (as highlighted in an article from hcamag).

 

In the world we are currently living in, we now deal and communicate with people from other countries, cultures, backgrounds, ages, etc. It is not always easy to interact with everyone. Some situations can be challenging. However, they are also very rewarding. 

 

I’m a huge fan of diversity and inclusion, whether we talk about people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, nationalities, languages, religion, age, gender, sexual preference, marital status, etc. 

 

To me, appreciating diversity and inclusion mean recognizing differences between people and acknowledging that these differences are actually an asset. We should never discriminate but embrace diversity. 

 

How to embrace diversity? What can we do as individuals to be more inclusive? I had already written a blog about this a few months ago, but would like to expand a bit more…

 

👉🏽 Be open minded

Never assume you know everything or that you have the answer to a question. Don’t generalize or believe in stereotypes. Be open to all suggestions, ideas, perspective or feedback. 

It’s easy to say ‘[Insert gender] always say this’ or ‘[Insert nationality] people always do that’. But remember that everybody is different and that even if a certain gender, nationality, profession etc. often share some common traits, there are exceptions everywhere.

 

👉🏽 Respect everybody

In personal or professional relationships, there will always be a time where you will disagree. And it is ok to disagree with someone, as long as you do it respectfully.. You may not agree with what your counterpart is saying but you always have to respect him/her. Consider his/her feelings, ideas, wishes or rights. 

 

👉🏽 Accept everyone for who they are

Everybody is different. We were all born in different circumstances, we all have different friends, different interests, different backgrounds etc. We have not chosen where we were born, nor the color of our skin or eyes. Everybody is unique and has something to offer.

 

👉🏽 Do not judge

Even if something may sound weird at first, let the person explain why he/she said something. You do not know what you do not know. It’s easy to provide judgement. It’s more difficult to listen and try to understand others. Also, do not judge quickly: someone who may be struggling with taking a test during training can become one of your best employees in the future.

👉🏽 Stay curious / Be willing to learn

Ask questions. Listen. Try to understand where the person is coming from, try to put yourself in his/her shoes. Be willing to learn. The more you know, the more you’ll realize that you actually know nothing, and that there is so much to learn in this world. People from different countries or cultures view things differently. Because of their history, backgrounds, circumstances, etc. they bring valuable input, especially if you implement a product or a service globally.

 

I believe that we all have something to offer and that we all have something to learn from each other. Someone older has a wealth of experience while someone younger will bring new ideas. A person from another country will provide other insights you may not have thought of. Someone with a ‘different-ability’ will make you think of something you did not even imagine. 

I always say ‘Together we are stronger’. 💪🏻💪🏽💪🏿

Diversity and inclusion are key. They make us stronger, they make us better. 

 

#vlvcoach #diversity #diversityandinclusion 

 

This blog was also posted on Linkedin.

Credit: Picture from Youtube video TV 2 | All that we share – connected

 

Diversity and inclusion: sexual orientation

Diversity and inclusion

 

When we talk about it, we often think about: 

 

Men and women

 

Younger and older generations

 

People from different colors, cultures, countries or religion…

 

There is however another type of diversity: 

 

Sexual orientation

 

Listen to the powerful speech Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, did a few days ago at the United Nations…

 

People should not judge, but accept differences…

 


Source: MSN / NBC News

 

#vlvcoach #diversity #inclusion #diversityandinclusion

 

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True global leaders embrace diversity and include everybody

True global leaders embrace diversity and include everybody. They never assume they already have all the answers. 

Global leaders keep and open mind. They value diversity and include everybody.

 

They know that having a diverse team can be challenging. However, they accept and respect everyone. No matter where they come from, their nationality, religion, sex, age, background, ability/differentability, etc.

 

In addition, global leaders know that everyone has something to offer.  They ask for feedback and ensure that EVERYBODY is included in the process. They know that everyone can offer a different perspective, provide different ideas and strengthen the team.

 

Finally, great leaders know that the big ideas and solutions come from the most diverse teams.

They know that diversity AND inclusion are key! They simply embrace them.

 

As a conclusion, I want to finish with one of my favorite quotes from Verna Myers.

Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

This post was shared on Linkedin and on fyi.to

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance!

#vlvcoach #leadership #professionalwomen #diversityandinclusion

 

Animals and diversity…

They are all different

And yet, they are all friends…

If they all can get along with each other

Why can’t we???

[French version / version francaise]

Ils sont tous différents

Et pourtant, ils sont tous amis…

S’ils s’entendent tous les uns avec les autres.

Pourquoi nous, ne peut-on pas le faire ?

Source video: The Sound Project – Youtube vlvcoach diversity inclusion animals

 

This post was also published on Linkedin.

How to embrace diversity

Working in an international environment is usually very challenging . You not only deal with many different people from different countries, but also different personalities, opinions, cultures… However, working with different types of people is also very rewarding.

I’m a huge fan of diversity. Whether it’s about people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, nationalities, languages, religion, age, sexual preference, etc., I love and need diversity.

Appreciating diversity means recognizing differences between people. It means acknowledging that these differences are actually an asset. We should never discriminate but embrace diversity. 

What you can do as an individual

Many organizations have programs in place to improve diversity and inclusion. But as an individual, there are a few things you can do as well…

So, what can you do to embrace diversity?

 Be open minded

Respect everybody. Accept everyone for who they are. Do not judge. Having people with different ages for instance means different experiences and different views of seeing things. Be open to all suggestions.

  Stay curious

Don’t always believe stereotypes. Listen, ask questions, try to understand. Having a team with different expertise areas, backgrounds and/or languages will provide specific insights that you may not have thought of.

 Be willing to learn

You don’t know what you don’t know. People from different countries or cultures view things differently. They bring valuable input, especially if you implement a product or a service globally. 

Therefore, next time you have to set up a new team or manage a team, try to make it as diverse as possible. It will really help your organization.

This post was also posted on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #diversity #inclusion #leadership

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Relax and recharge once in a while!

For 10 days, I took a break from social media to relax and recharge my batteries. This explains why I have not been much on internet lately. I needed to forget everything, focus on something else and re-energize.

And what better way to do this than attending the biggest Salsa/Bachata Festival of the world in Croatia in Rovinj (also refered to as the Summer Sensual Days and Croatian Summer Salsa Festival)! 💃🏽

I love dancing salsa (and bachata) 😊

Dancing is one of my passions.

It is my workout, my emotional and physical stress relief.

It also allows me to connect with people in a different way. One more reason why I love so much dancing salsa is the diversity of people I meet.

During 10 days, I danced days and nights with people from all over the world: China, South Africa, Serbia, Norway, Sweden, Poland, UK, US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, India, Suriname, etc.

We all had one common language and one shared passion: dancing. It is truly a universal language.

Salsa in Rovinj

I’m now back all refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of 2019 😉

My advice to you all: Do not forget to take a break once in a while to relax and recharge your batteries!

vlvcoach diversity salsadancing

Digitalization

Yesterday evening I attended a networking event organized by the AMCHAM Luxembourg (American Chamber of Commerce). The main topic was digitalization.

As a small country, Luxembourg has been implementing different initiatives to attract companies and talent. Luxembourg has been trying to be at the forefront as one of  the most digitalized countries in Europe, if not in the world.

 

During this event, there were two speakers. The first was Marc Hansen, the Luxembourgish Minister of digitalization. The second speaker was  David Goldsmith, consultant, inventor, advisor, speaker, serial entrepreneur, and author. As a coincidence, I had seen David two days before at the TedXLuxembourg event, where he had been delivering a presentation as well.  I had really enjoyed his speech then, but was even more impressed yesterday.

During this event, David delivered an amazing presentation on digitalization. He provided us with an overview of the current situation (not only in Luxembourg but also in the world) and gave us some nice perspectives/food for thoughts…

 

Many lessons could be drawn from his presentation but one stood out to me, one which is dear to my heart: diversity. 

 

Main takeaway on digitalization and diversity

If an organization, a company, a city or a country wants to be successful, it needs to be diverse and include people from different backgrounds.

They should never assume they already have all the answers.

 

For this reason, they need to ask for feedback and ensure that EVERYBODY is included in the process:

✅ Men and women

✅ Young children till retired people

✅ Luxembourgers and foreigners/expatriates

✅ People from different countries, cultures, religion

✅ People with different backgrounds, education, jobs, languages, sexual orientation, etc.

✅ Abled and differently-abled people

It’s only when everyone’s point of view is taken into account that big ideas will be born. Then, solutions will be all encompassing, bringing greater benefits to all people and the businesses that spearhead those solutions.

 

I’ve said it before and will re-say it again:

⭐️⭐️⭐️ DIVERSITY IS KEY ⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

#vlvcoach #digitalization #leadership #Luxembourg #diversity #inclusion

This article was also published on Linkedin.

Diversity… I 💜 it, I live it and I need it! 😊

I grew up in a small town in Northern France with only French white people, most of them catholics. All my family was living in Northern France, and we were going on holiday in France. There was nothing a priori that was pushing me towards diversity.

When I was approximately 9 years old, I asked my mom to teach me English. From a young age, I have always wanted to learn a new language to be able to communicate with other people. I asked her because I did not want to wait 2 more years to learn English at school. I was apparently attracted to ‘something else’ at a young age, not sure where that came from…

When I was 18 and I went studying, I started to have foreign friends. At the end of my studies I then left to go to Germany for a training period. After 3 months, I was offered a job. I accepted and never looked back. This was the beginning of my life as an expatriate.

Since then, diversity has been a part of me.

My husband is from Suriname; my brother lives in the UK.

Even before I joined Linkedin, I’ve had friends from all over the world.

Some of my best friends are gay.

I have always managed teams with people from different countries.

When I was working in a bank in Amsterdam, I was one of the youngest, one of the only foreigners & one of the only women.

I cannot imagine my life without diversity.

⭐️ We all have more things in common than differences.

⭐️ Everybody has something to offer, to teach others.

⭐️ And we all have something to learn.

I keep saying it:

Together, we are stronger 💪🏻💪🏽💪🏿

I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t embraced diversity.

Diversity… I 💜 it, I live it and I need it! 😊

This article was also published on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #diversity

 

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World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development.

Today, 21st May, is World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development.

to show how diversity can be embraced, I wanted to post this picture as a demonstration…

This picture was taken the 1st time I went to work in India. I had been hired to set up a team in India and my first trip brought me to Chennai, where I met my team members.

Because I did not know if I would come back, I decided to stay over for the weekend. I wanted to learn more about the country,. My colleagues were kind enough to show me around and bring me to places I probably would not have seen on my own. 

Since I was in India, I wanted to ‘fit in’. I wanted to show that I was embracing the culture. I therefore decided to dress with Indian clothes.

My female colleague wanted to make me feel comfortable in India and decided to wear Western clothes. When we saw each other, we laughed. We thought ‘great minds think alike’. This allowed us to appreciate and respect each other even more.

Not everything is what it seems…

The strangest thing happened afterwards when we were visiting places. Some Indian people were praising me for wearing Indian clothes while they were blaming my Indian colleague for wearing western clothes!

I was surprised by both types of comments. But there are 2 lessons here to take:

– By embracing diversity, we not only learn about people from other backgrounds, nationalities or cultures. We also gain wonderful experiences that open our minds even more.

– Perception can be deceiving. We should never judge people by the way they look or by why they do certain things. There’s always a reason behind it…

This article was published on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #diversity #inclusion #leadership #womeninbusiness #professionalwomen