Employee Engagement

Active Listening: An Overlooked Path to Diversity and Inclusion

The business case for diversity and inclusion is well established for organizations all across the globe. Going by the figures, according to a BCG report, diverse management teams result in 19% higher revenue due to innovation. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Closing the gender gap has the potential to add $28 Trillion to the global economy, accounting for a 26% increase by 2025. While the rationale for diversity is well ingrained in most organizations today and a diverse representation is on the rise, the inclusion of the diverse views is still a little ways down the line. Therefore, it is important for organizations to not only boost their diversity quotient, but also augment the sense of belongingness and inclusivity of this diversity via adoption of different practices. 

Diversity and Inclusion via Active Listening

Diversity hiring, training and sensitization, mentoring, coaching are a few of the several ways for organizations to boost their diversity and inclusion statistics. However, active listening and paying heed to different opinions is one of the most effective measures to make a dent on the bottom line. Active listening is all about being attentive to different opinions and points of view, making a conscious effort to weigh them across different options and in turn acting upon them. Diversity and inclusion doesn’t end with having diverse representation on your organization’s payroll. Rather, effectiveness lies in giving weight to diverse thoughts which are breeding grounds for innovation and growth. 

Boosting active listening 

With the ground fertile for promoting diversity and inclusion via active listening, it is important for organizations to have a roadmap to achieve the latter:

  • Forming ERGs: Employee resource groups or ERGs are primary instruments to promote active listening. Assuming that active listening as a means to diversity and inclusion will work in a large setting may be an over ambitious goal to begin with. Rather, organizations can experiment with smaller settings that promote interests of some diverse groups bringing together group members as well as their allies. The objective here is to promote active listening in a safe space and act upon the concerns and suggestions of the minorities by populating the idea across the organization with the help of ally networks. 

  • Real time anonymous surveys: While ERGs work in a small group setting, surveys are effective for bigger audiences, especially where creating groups is difficult. While some might argue that survey is not exactly listening, however, active listening is as much about acting on the opinions and perspectives shared as hearing them. Here, surveys, especially when anonymous, can be instrumental to gauge an organization wide pulse. They can offer robust data points for leaders to map strategic policies converting opinion into action, thereby promoting diversity and inclusion via active listening. 

  • Feedback from employees: On an individual or personal level, feedback from employees is an important part of active listening. This allows managers and leaders to get a personalized understanding of each employee’s personality, expectations and opinions. Often seen as reverse feedback, this allows managers to gauge if their approach to management and mentoring is working or not. 

Diversity and Inclusion: Start with Active Listening

Undoubtedly, there are several strands to promote diversity and inclusion in an organization. Active listening is an important parameter for the same as it enables organizations to promote a sense of belongingness in the pre-existing diversity in the organization, thereby promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the future. It is worthwhile for organizations to invest in tools and platforms like SuperBeings, that can act as behavioral change agents and nudge subtle actions that promote active listening and coach senior stakeholders on the same, along the way.

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