Every business leader should read the book, The Business of We, by Laura Kriska. However, read it only once you’ve committed yourself to creating a welcoming and productive work environment for all.
This book couldn’t have come at a more important time because as Kriska shares, “a new approach to diversity, cultural difference, and inclusion is urgently needed – a time for business leaders to create true synergy among the diverse and often fiercely divided members of their workforce.”
With 30 years of experience bridging gags in diverse workplaces, and as a sought-out lecturer and a TEDx speaker, Kriska provides expert insights and actionable strategies in her book to help you:
- Effectively repair division.
- Recognize warning signs.
- Proactively create opportunities.
And, more specifically and most importantly, how to create WE-builders to help close any gap between people who are separated by ethnicity, language, race, religion, or any factor that divides.
Kriska explains that to achieve real change and lasting change you need to spend the time, make the effort and commitment, and be fully accountable. Your organization needs to be more than superficial with your programs and approaches. And you’ll need to be proactive and not reactive – all the while knowing that proximity to people different from ourselves is not enough to bridge gaps.
The key takeaway from the book for me is Kriska’s list of what an organization must do the handle cross-cultural issues with great effectiveness. This list is:
- Involve leaders as de factor directors of diversity. These senior executives are actively, visibly, and regularly engaged in promoting cross-cultural understanding. They not only model appropriate behaviors, but also participate in training programs designed to foster awareness and appreciation for differences.
- Notice if all the decision-makers represent a dominant culture and make changes to increase the number of diverse voices at the table.
- Bring cultural data into the organizational conversation.
- Foster effective conversations about topics such as ageing, sexism, and racism.
- Engage in self-reflection that challenges old and accepted paradigms of dominance through formal and informal channels.
- Encourage and exhibit emotional bravery. Be willing to have difficult conversations and demonstrate an ability to listen rather than just to explain, deny, or defend.
- Set measurable goals for hiring, retention, and promotion for a diverse set of employees.
- Tie diversity, equity, and inclusion goals to business goals.
Finally, Kriska recommends business leaders purposefully and routinely:
- Ask for input from marginalized voices.
- Notice when behavior seems unusual to you.
- Assume there is cultural data you cannot see and seek to find it.
Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.