Why is building a culture of tolerance and respect so important for your business? Employees have always been self-aware of their differences. This is just human nature. It takes a higher level of thought to recognize similarities, which starts with having respect for others. At the next juncture, diversity should be celebrated and this is the experience of full inclusion. It matters to all businesses that employees are working together in an environment where differences are put aside. The focus then is on each individual’s value and what they bring to the table. And this value is everything to the success of your business. 

Business benefits of tolerance and respect

Employee tolerance and respect are essential parts of working towards common goals, and using creative solutions to a wide range of workplace problems. This attitude fosters collaboration, innovation, and positive behaviors. In contrast, not having a culture of tolerance and respect can quickly thwart team and organization progress, while encouraging a breeding ground for employee conflicts, misunderstandings, and unethical behavior. 

From a cultural standpoint, when employees respect one another, they also see the unique value and skills that each person on the team has. This makes it far more productive because people are regarded as experts and can turn to one another to complete tasks and solve problems. This has the effect of creating more positive relationships with each other and improves the employee experience. 

In a labor market where great talent is hard to find, a culture of diversity and inclusion can support recruitment and retention efforts. Job seekers evaluate this when they are seeking a new opportunity, particularly if it is a value they hold dear. A Glassdoor survey discovered that two-thirds of active and passive candidates said that when evaluating companies and job offers, a diverse workforce is an important factor. Another revealing fact from this survey: employees think that diversity should be demonstrated at the top of the organization, as 41 percent surveyed did not think their company had a diverse enough executive team.

This brings us to the next point - how should leaders set the example of diversity and inclusion? 

Creating a culture of tolerance and respect from the top 

It’s often been thought that compliance training is a human resource issue. If employees are assembled into diverse teams, they are expected to find a way to co-exist and learn to relate to each other. This isn’t the case. The values of tolerance and respect must come from the top down so that employees know what the company stands for. Examine your current compliance training measures to see if there are guidelines for the executive team, the directors, and other higher-ups. 

Leaders can send a clear message about the company’s stance on diversity and inclusion by establishing them as core values of the organization. They should also be participating in corporate compliance training along with all other employees. Leaders can also be covering these matters as part of their own professional development activities, from the standpoint of building a business that promotes these ideals. Advanced studies in this area are recommended. Communicate respect for diversity at every opportunity, to employees, colleagues, and customers. 

Future leadership challenges 

Diversity and inclusion will continually be disrupted by the future of work. According to Bernard Coleman, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Uber, there are four main factors that leaders should prepare for. 

  1. Artificial Intelligence - Already impacting the way humans interact with each other, AI has been considered to be an advantage in terms of reducing bias in the workplace. However, AI does not have the ability to be culturally sensitive, nor can it control output if the input isn’t carefully monitored. 
  2. Employee Activism - There has been a marked increase in the number of social issues that have become movements due to social media. Employees taking their own personal stance on issues should be serious, but not at the expense of others. Leaders should promote corporate values and stay out of activism that can reduce tolerance and divide employees. 
  3. Remote Workforce - Business leaders require a new mindset as a result of a rapidly increasing remote workforce. This is a time to step up diversity and inclusion education and also put policies in place to protect employees from being singled out or discriminated against. So too compliance training needs to be accessible by all employees regardless of where they work.
  4. Demographic Adaptability - As the market demographics change, leaders will need to be prepared to work with new technology, new ideas, and a whole new set of behaviors coming from the next generation. Having a strong foundation of tolerance and respect for others will remain vital as each organization adapts to a new world.