Diverse teams generate beneficial collective intelligence, social sensitivity, space for more creativity as well as psychological safety for all. And yet, for so many of us, cultivating and working in teams that encourage diversity and inclusion is often such a challenge.

We view the world through our stories, our subconscious contexts and our personal frames of reference.  Diversity challenges us to reflect on our perspectives and realise that our perspectives may not be universal or even normative.  While this might be difficult in a moment, ultimately our intricate connections and world views can unlock innovative solutions and true value within teams.  

Emotional Self-Awareness

Is “recognising and understanding your own emotions. This includes the ability to differentiate between subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on your thoughts and actions, and those of others” (MHS, 2011). When we are aware of what is going on for us – what we are feeling and the emotions we are experiencing – it is easier to be aware of how our personal bias may be impacting our behaviour or beliefs in an interaction. With emotional self-awareness we are far better equipped to engage in situations that may be “other” for us – becoming aware of the way we subconsciously respond, through both verbal and non-verbal communication. Embracing diversity will happen most effectively when we are able to get comfortable with our discomfort, and this starts with emotional self-awareness. 

Interpersonal relationships

Refers to the “skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterised by trust and compassion” (MHS, 2011). Diversity and inclusivity are fostered in healthy relationships. It requires our reaching out and engaging with those who might be different from us and being intentional with team members. Note that healthy interpersonal relationships are characterised by trust and compassion, two key features of psychological safety. Edmondson defines team psychological safety as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking” (Edmondson, 1999). This simply serves to highlight that relationship, trust, safety and compassion are all intrinsically linked to fostering diversity.