It is not uncommon in today’s workplace to have differing viewpoints on diversity and inclusion. People in underrepresented groups might be more aware of their underrepresentation or simply aware in a more personal way. It can be frustrating and baffling when we can see issues with diversity and inclusion in our workplaces and others do not. This is a common occurrence that Gotara can help everyone navigate! In fact, for this exact situation, Gotara offers five suggestions for communication:
- ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT: When you hear comments like, “We don’t have a diversity/inclusion problem in our company, our CFO is a woman,” it is crucial to remind yourself that bad behavior does not necessarily mean bad people, no matter how much you disagree. This person might genuinely believe that having a female-identifying C-Suite executive is an accomplishment that would outshine any imbalance in the organization. They might not understand and need to learn more to get the full picture. Especially when a comment like this makes you angry, it helps to remind yourself to assume positive intent and stay constructive.
- USE HUMOR: Especially when emotions are running high or any type of tension might be aroused or worsened, it can be helpful to diffuse the situation with humor. This technique can be tricky, but when applied properly, can be extremely effective. Especially when combined with assuming positive intent, adding a bit of humor can open a friendly and productive dialogue. The tricky part involves body language and tone of voice. If you can keep a lighthearted and genuine countenance, try responding to comments such as the above mentioned with a friendly smile and something like, “Well, we all know three women in management is not enough to promote a diverse workplace!” Add a laugh as if everyone is sharing in the joke. The key here is to use the word “we” and express open friendliness. This can be an excellent way to diffuse tension before continuing with a hard or potentially controversial conversation.
- SUGGEST AN ACTION: Depending upon your relationship with the person, you could suggest that they conduct further research of their own into the true nature of diversity in your organization. You might suggest that they review employee surveys, listen in on Employee Resource Groups (ERGS), talk to HR, or privately poll diverse talent. It’s possible that they have their opinion simply because they lack information.
For the last two suggestions on how to handle this situation and thousands of others, join Gotara. It is free to join and get the advice you need to navigate hurdles and grow your career. We are available 24/7 and have more than 120 senior leaders who provide advice within 24 hours.