If I were a mainstream comic superhero, my main skill (and the one that’s enabled me to ace my career), would be empathy. Every week as a child I cried buckets that Lassie had saved the day but didn’t have a home, that ET was alone and scared on a strange planet and that Johnny Five just wanted to find his place in the world!
This strange skill has enabled me to always see the ‘common’ in people and not the ‘difference’, even extending to the animal world! As my research, understanding and knowledge has broadened, I have found it harder and harder to understand why other people concentrate so much on what separates us and so little on what joins us. So for me, as a leader, mother, wife and human being, the world we are currently living in has become a much scarier and unhappier place. But this can be fixed!
Claire shares her tips on how to improve tolerance in the workplace.
By Claire Morley-Jones
As a leader, instead of concentrating on the negative, it’s important to set the tone, shape the culture and model the behaviours that will help individuals grow and develop. You need to ensure the organisation is sustainable and community productive and thus, one step at a time, help to make society better overall. As I have said before and will no doubt say again, the culture of our organisations affects how team members feel about themselves and therefore, the difference and contribution they can make to society. And we can all do this, but how?
Here are my tips on things you can do in your organisation to foster more tolerance and support of difference:
MASLOWS HIERARCHY OF NEEDS
Intolerance is bred through a lack of empathy and understanding. Human beings find it harder to concentrate on the needs and rights of others when they themselves are feeling threatened or insecure. One important thing we can do for our people is ensure that they have job security, the highest salaries we can afford and feel part of something worthwhile.
MAKE INTOLERANCE DIFFICULT
We tend to emulate and amplify the world around us. Where corruption is rife and has become the norm, bribery is difficult to obliterate. Where drinking to excess on a Saturday night and ending up in A&E has become a badge of honour, being sober on a night out is seen as a sign of weakness. As leaders we need to ensure that intolerance does not have a place to take root. And this is not done by punishing the intolerant, but by rewarding and giving opportunity to diversity, kindness and inclusion. This makes intolerance difficult to take hold.
ENCOURAGE FREE INTELLECTUAL ENQUIRY
This can also be expressed as “encourage everyone to keep learning” and “if we all think alike, we don’t think very much”! By encouraging any form of learning within our organisations we are encouraging the brain to stay elastic; to grow, expand and take on new experiences. Bad habits and negativity can literally be wired into your brain because every experience is shaping your brain every day. By providing positive, enriching and challenging workplaces, we encourage our brains to be flexible and more brain cells to grow. This allows every member of your team to be able to contribute and feel involved. And being involved, leads to a feeling of inclusion.
STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
As access to social media has widened we can now see that there are some leaders prepared to step forward. Whether that’s FutureYou turning their logo rainbow coloured in support of same sex marriage in Australia, or Jaguar’s owner Shahid Khan embracing his players in support of the ‘taking the knee’ campaign. And yet, it isn’t just big business that should be this brave.
In a world where we are all so worried about offending, how refreshing would it be to actually know where someone stood on an issue? You’d be forgiven for thinking that personal views have nothing to do with running a business, and to some extent I’d agree. However there are just some cases where it’s really important for your employees to see you make the hard choices, stand up for what you believe is right and really demonstrate your internal culture. This is the only way they can feel connected and a part of it!
If you have any views or suggestions about improving tolerance in the workplace, we’d love to hear them! Just get in touch.
Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.