Here at Plastic Expert, our people are our success story. Creating an all inclusive work environment is a fundamental part of our mission and purpose values, and is something we wish to explore and explain in this post. Our team are our core, they are our feet on the ground, our hands on the wheels and our ears on the phones. We need them to be their best self, with self being the key word, and for that to happen, they need the utmost support and guidance from the management team.
Embrace team members being themselves
Culture, race, religion, disability, gender and sexual orientation are all things that we embrace here, rather than push under the rug and ignore. From day one, we have always wanted our team members to feel absolutely comfortable being open and supported about who they are, where they come from and what they believe in.
Turning a group into a team is the challenge of every manager, but turning a team into a family is something that can only come with love and acceptance of one another. Like families, you don’t all arrive together on the same day, you accumulate over time, meaning that some have been around for longer and will have more experience with the way things work. We lean on each other here, we show each other the ropes and embrace that complex tasks often require patience and understanding, as well as transparent communication.
The purpose of a team is not to have individual superstars, but to come together as part of a common goal, using each other’s strengths and diversities as tools to complement their own. Teams comprised of similar ideologies, people and styles are flawed from the get-go, as they lack the multiplicity of knowledge on offer in a diverse global workforce.
Hiding who you are is bad for performance
If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right? We don’t believe in hiding your true self, or fearing the wrath of colleagues, that’s why our open working conditions create a sense of harmony and togetherness.
In June 2017, the Journal of Social Issues released a poignant piece of research titled ‘People Like Me Don't Belong Here: Identity Concealment is Associated with Negative Workplace Experiences’. The research studied the side-effects of hiding aspects of identity from co-workers, such as sexual orientation, illness or religion. What it found is not at all surprising to us; people who hide their identity adversely affect their sense of belonging, their self-esteem and both their job satisfaction and career drive.
It’s a paradox to say the least, that people will hide who they are in an attempt to fit in, and in doing so will only harbour feelings of being an outsider and socially different. The research also suggested that concealing identity was used most frequently as a method of avoiding discrimination, but does also suggest that the responsibility is not on the individual to make a choice between being authentic or being popular, but on organisations to create all inclusive working environments. We firmly agree.
Feeling comfortable in a diverse workplace
Just because all of your staff are from the same town, city or country, it doesn’t mean they aren’t diverse, in fact, far from it. There are diversities that people perceive on the surface, and many more that exist beneath the external layer, but what’s most important is allowing your employees a safe platform to be themselves and feel comfortable at work.
There are several ways to encourage a more diverse and transparent workplace, such as by discussing as a team the many different types of diversity that exist, to show that by each being different, we are all wonderful just by being ourselves. Discuss what is meant by discrimination, how it is manifested, and what steps must be taken to ensure that it does not occur. Celebrate diversity at every opportunity, whether it be Christmas, Eid, Gay Pride, Carnival or Chinese New Year, and allow people to share their own experiences. One additional way that we help our team feel more comfortable is by talking to them, getting to know them and reaching out to understand them better personally; this creates a much stronger bond within teams and businesses.
Who wins in an all inclusive working environment?
Who doesn’t win? Your teams will grow stronger and with more diverse and interesting backgrounds, making them able to pool knowledge from a greater collective resource. Inclusion and diversity help us think more creatively, often outside the box, making us more receptive, better problem solvers and more like to seek progression.
Don’t hire for diversity to fill a quota, or because you feel guilt, but because it is enriching, progressive and will provide a great deal of value to existing team members, especially those who may already consider themselves outsiders.
The truth is, we don’t all have equal privilege and opportunity, that’s not the world we live in, but it’s a world worth striving for. Ultimately, when you are welcomed into an all inclusive working environment, you can love your work AND be yourself! We are all different, and that’s something worth appreciating.