Apply These Diversity Must-Do’s to Get all the Flavor From Your Workplace
My co-author on this post (Natalie Hastings) and I both grew up loving Snoop Dogg and loathing Martha Stewart. For one, we were teenagers (ish at least in Scott’s case) and were far more interested in fun hip hop than fancy dinner parties. For two, Snoop seemed authentic (to two suburban youths), while Martha was more pretentious than a Junior League chapter meeting about when to wear white.
We knew Martha Stewart could be funny (and not just unintentionally), her recent cameo in Bad Moms was just one example. And the idea that someone who built an empire on keeping up appearances could make fun of herself, well, this sounded like quality television.
And it is.
In the first show, Snoop and Martha host Whiz Kalifa, Seth Rogen and Ice Cube during a fried chicken cook off, with Snoop adding potato chips to his chicken because that’s “how we do it in the hood.”
It’s a cooking show that’s not really about the cooking but the, as Martha calls it, the “split-personality kitchen.”
On every episode, Snoop shares his “hood” methods and Martha her haute cuisine, but what’s evident in the show is that this isn’t a funny matchup that was dreamed up just for an Academy Awards showcase (or, more recently, a Super Bowl ad). They genuinely like each other. They met when Snoop appeared on Martha’s show in the aughties. She declared him a good friend on a Reddit AMA claiming she’d just made him brownies. Wonder whether it was her recipe or his. (If it was Snoop’s recipe it was fo’ shizzle marijuanarizzle)
It’s hard not to notice their chemistry, or as Ian Crouch of the New Yorker described, it “demonstrates that different people can remain different and enjoy one another’s company.”
But don’t take Snoop and Martha’s word for it. Research says diversity actually makes us smarter. Scientific American summarizes it like this:
- It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does.
- This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
This applies to our workplace. It’s natural to shy away from people who are different–especially people who are radically different from us, not just the guy who picks the wrong team in the March Madness pool. (That wrong team is Syracuse, by the way.)
Here are some must-dos to get the most out of the diversity in your workplace.
- Make a conscious decision to build a relationship with someone different from you.
If there’s someone you always clash within departmental meetings, that’s probably your person. Ask them to lunch. Notice the candy they leave on their desk and bring a bag. Start with a small gesture and see where it leads, but be open to the idea that the person who seems your polar opposite might be exactly who you need to see a project, or an individual, from a new perspective.
- Really listen to their story.
A friend of Nat’s told her about working for an IT firm who had hired several new employees from India. One day, a coworker was concerned that all of the Indian employees were huddled together and wearing lots of clothing. In a post 9-11 world, this coworker thought the employees were huddled together because they had malintent. Turns out, they were cold! When the friend took the time to listen, she understood that the heat vent wasn’t working in their part of the office, and they were missing their tropical temperatures, huddled together for warmth.
- Show empathy for their person and their point of view.
Once you know someone’s story, it’s easier to have empathy for them and their point of view. Ask yourself, how would Kate approach this? Considering the point of view of everyone around the conference room table will sharpen your presentation as you anticipate their questions. Knowing Samir’s story will enable you to make the right call when he comes and asks for an extra day off (He really did need it).
- Deliberately include different people and viewpoints on your team.
If diversity makes us smarter, what does a lack of diversity do? (It probably has the same effect as watching too much reality television.) I don’t think they’ve researched that specifically, but a recent study on the Facebook echo chamber demonstrates that a lack of diverse viewpoints can alter our perception of reality.
So get out there and find the Martha to your Snoop, or vice versa.
Your workplace will get to higher ground as a result (pun intended).
This article was published by Scott Mautz and Natalie Hastings
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