March 25, 2021
Embracing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace can help improve safety, attract talented new employees and make all staff feel protected. Since these are goals for most companies in the business aviation industry, learning how to remove barriers to discrimination and exclusion is key to having the best possible work environment for all employees.
At a keynote session at the NBAA GO Leadership Summit, speakers discussed how diversity and real conversations can help create the best teams, covering the value of DEI and how businesses can go about incorporating it.
“Companies can do a great job of creating an inclusive culture by having policies and procedures in place that make people feel comfortable,” said Risha Grant, a diversity and inclusion speaker and consultant. “Polices like zero tolerance have the power to create change.” Grant noted it is important to first do an assessment of your company’s DEI health. “Then it’s important to be open and self-aware,” she added. “Do diversity training, have the keynotes, do the workshops – all that is great for creating awareness.”
Grant said that our biases affect DEI by raising the invisible barrier that we have against other groups of people that are not like us. “This is often taught to us by the people we love most in the world,” said Grant. ”Learning about unconscious bias is a big part of DEI work. We have to start looking inside and think about who makes you uncomfortable and why. Identify, own and confront.”
Grant and Jim Peal, a consultant in architecting and managing organizational change and transforming dysfunctional leaders and groups, discussed the many microaggressions that impact marginalized people.
“When microaggressions happen – whether they are intentionally meant to hurt or not – our attention goes inside and we stop paying attention to the outside, and this can impact safety,” said Peal. “Leaders need to do everything they can to keep peoples’ attention on the outside and focused on the protocols. There needs to be a safe way to speak up and have a conversation. These things don’t just go away on their own.”
Additional benefits of a diverse workplace include a safer environment, because different viewpoints add to the safety discussion, according to Peal. “You will also get a lot more information about how to better serve your customers,” he said.
Diversity also attracts a talented workforce to your business, Grant noted. “People are looking for diverse workplaces, and are choosing jobs based on DEI.”