2018-07-23 Issue 60 Fundamental Behavior 5 Embrace Diversity
When the word “diversity” comes to mind, many people most often think of the color of one’s skin or gender. While these aspects of diversity are all critical to a vibrant culture, when I became the president of YKK AP America and considered how to strengthen an inclusive environment in our organization, the diversity of diversity became more apparent. We can no longer view diversity in monolithic contexts but rather as a dynamic and beautiful kaleidoscope of colors, genders, ages, backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, nationalities, and points of view. The other thing that became more apparent is the fact that we are already diverse. It is not something we must seek; it is already upon us! That is why our Fundamental Behavior to embrace diversity is so important – it entreats us to “Be curious and inclusive. Embrace people of all backgrounds and with perspectives different from your own.” I happen to believe that embracing diversity in your personal life will be an enriching experience and the benefits of doing so at an organizational level are undisputed.
Last year Deloitte presented a report, “Diversity and inclusion: The reality gap: 2017 Global Human Capital Trends.” The findings demonstrate that a changing global political environment has heightened employee sensitivity to diversity and inclusion. Another notable finding suggests millions of Baby Boomers are delaying retirement, while many Millennials are approaching the age when both spouses often work and the prospect of longer careers means a wider generational span in the workforce.
So why is all this important? Further research shows that “diverse and inclusive teams are more innovative, engaged and creative in their work.” And we already know that a more engaged organization performs better. This means we can serve customers better and continue to grow and fulfill the Cycle of Goodness to further benefit customers, society, and all of our employees.
I know that the leaders of YKK and YKK AP will continue to consider ways we can strengthen a diverse and inclusive culture that creates a welcoming and opportunity rich environment for each and every employee. At the same time, embracing diversity really thrives on a one-to-one, human-to-human basis. So how can you embrace diversity? Being curious and inclusive isn’t just a mindset. It takes hard work to understand and appreciate differing perspectives – whether on the factory floor or in an office. There are simple ways to open ourselves up to new perspectives each day: the age-old “Golden Rule,” of course, is the basis for an open and inclusive workplace – treat others as you like to be treated. Getting to know your colleagues on a personal level, regardless of culture or background, also deepens our understanding and appreciation of each other’s differences. Take me for example; when I was a child playing outside with my friends, when my mother called me in for dinner from the kitchen window in a foreign language and heavy accent, my friends knew I was different. Bet you didn’t know that about me did you? Ask me someday.
When you look through a kaleidoscope into the bright sunshine with all of the different shapes and colors, it may be beautiful. However, when you embrace the diversity of our organizational kaleidoscope by turning the wheel you will see the dynamic movement of colors and shapes in harmony and it will be truly magical!
YKK AP America Inc.