October 19, 2021
Where you grow up has a big effect on who you are. People from a big city are used to crowds and the hustle-bustle. Small town folks, on the other hand, tend to appreciate a more laid-back, peaceful life on a cul-de-sac where they know all their neighbors’ names. Culture comes from many different areas in our lives. What makes us different is what gives us diversity.
Diversity in the workplace matters so much in our world today. Yet many businesses struggle with it and continue to dance around the important conversations that could push innovation forward. So where are people going wrong?
Liz Nead teaches people how to do diversity better. She understands that working together is the ONLY path to success. As a speaker and researcher, her main focus is on common language and daily communication around race and cultural differences in the workplace. Thousands have taken her online series “Together School” program, which leaders in the public and private sector also use.
For Liz, breaking boundaries and having tough conversations should be a skill in everyone’s toolkit.
Top three takeaways from my conversation with Liz Nead
Your impact matters more than your intentions. “20 years ago, we excused a lot of behavior-based on someone’s intention. Today on social media, there is a harsh reaction to people who make mistakes if they don’t understand and acknowledge the impact of their actions and words. When a situation is not aligning with your intention, saying you didn’t mean it is going to sound tone deaf. Open up the conversation instead. Reevaluate by saying ‘this is what I meant, but I can see that you’re not receiving it that way. Can we talk about what it is that you’re hearing?’ This way, you become a lifelong learner of understanding how people are taking your words. You’ll quickly become prolific in handling diverse situations.”
The need for a strong diversity toolkit will only get more critical. “Within 20 years, 50% of the U.S. population won’t identify as white. There is a serious need for understanding diversity. I can give people the toolkit, but I can’t force them to use it. I just need to make sure people understand how important it is. When someone says something you don’t understand, or that maybe you disagree with, are you ready to respond? Or are you just going to muzzle yourself for the rest of your life because you’re afraid of offending someone or endangering your position at the organization that you work for?”
Diversity requires the bravery to break through barriers. “We’ve been stuck in the same spot for 40 to 50 years. Even though some things are different, our learning is stagnant. If you’re constantly in a state of being guarded because you are so sure that your intention matters, you will never give what you’re capable of. It’s not about everyone agreeing, it’s about everyone being in a different place and then offering their perspective to the bigger picture. If we can learn these skills, innovation is on the other side of the door.”
Watch the full conversation to learn more from Liz about staying on top of the ever-changing landscape of diversity, having honest conversations, and being brave in the face of barriers.