This is Becoming Inclusive from The Kaleidoscope Group, where we’re thinking differently about diversity, equity, and inclusion. For more empowered people at work. We’re committed to real change and that begins with real conversations. Welcome in.
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To understand organizational culture, consider this analogy from the late author and novelist David Foster Wallace, A big fish meets a little fish and asks ‘how’s the water?’ In response, the little fish say’s ‘what’s water?”
The water in this example is like organizational culture, which is slightly different than how we talk about culture in a broader sense. So in the fish and water analogy, organizational culture is like the water we swim in. If we apply this to the workplace, many don’t truly appreciate or understand our organizational cultures until we leave them and enter a new job with an entirely different workplace environment with unfamiliar work styles, values, and systems.
Why Org Culture Matters
Quite simply, workplace cultures matter greatly for organizations that want a competitive advantage. We’ve come to understand that 360-degree perspective provided by people from different backgrounds and walks of life stoke innovation. When organizations are homogenous, the perspectives tend to be homogenous as well. It’s hard to think out of the box when everyone is basically viewing a situation from within the same box, to begin with—and this is where the intersection between culture and DEI exists. And it should be exploited to the nth degree because it reveals things that may not be readily apparent in ideation and problem solving if everyone is viewing it from the same angle.
Managing Cultural Diversity
Since most leaders accept that cultural diversity and inclusion are important—even critical—to innovation and solution generation, the challenge they face is how to keep things focused and on track, while still soliciting the perspectives of a diverse workforce. If not properly managed, the result is chaos since consensus is more difficult to reach without clear direction from leaders and project managers. As a consequence of increased globalization, leaders with international experience tend to do well at understanding how to adapt and manage people with disparate backgrounds, cultures, work styles, and values. However, this is often daunting for managers with less exposure to diverse and inclusive organizational cultures. Training in things like unconscious biases and cultural awareness is helpful and an essential step in fostering leaders who appreciate, rather than fear, the dynamism that diversity and inclusion bring to the table—and to the balance sheets.
Contextualizing Culture and DEI
In an episode of The Kaleidoscope Group’s Becoming Inclusive Podcast hosts Kat Potts and Reggie Ponder were joined by Gradiola Kapaj, Global Client Services Manager, and Trisha Carter, Organizational Psychologist and Global Engagement Leader, who talked in great depth about the topic. Given their broad international experience working with leaders of organizations worldwide, it makes for a compelling and truly thought-provoking conversation.
Thanks for joining us, and a special thanks to our subscribers. Consider becoming one today. Becoming Inclusive is presented by The Kaleidoscope Group, your full-service Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion partner serving clients worldwide. Learn more and continue the conversation and kgdiversity.com