New Dimension of Change – Diversity and Inclusivity in the Workplace

In this world, the only constant is change.

Ivan Gundulić

How We Deal with Change

It is no secret that change is unavoidable and a part of our daily life. When we consider it theoretically, and need to answer the question if we consider it a good thing, we mostly agree that change is necessary – things need to change, certain ways of thinking or doing are “done with”. However, this is only one side of the story. If we formulate the question in this way: “Who wants to change?”, the answer differs greatly. When we realize that change cannot happen if we don’t change – we are not so eager and ready for change.

One of the key aspects of change is diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The goal is to create an environment in which all, no matter their personality traits, feel accepted and have equal opportunities. However, accepting our differences is not always easy, especially when we have to face our unconscious biases and prejudice.

Hiring foreign employees is our “new normal”. Like everything, this too has two sides. On the one hand, newcomers have mostly found their footing, they are hardworking and are trying to assimilate. On the other hand, misunderstandings, different ways of thinking and the language barrier between us lead to tension and unstable relationships. This situation has also opened some old wounds. The arrival of the foreign workforce only shone a light on some of them. Issues like lack of quality teamwork, not accepting our differences, differences in opinion and points of view and many others were present before their arrival. These issues are reflected in the intergenerational gap where one must find a common ground to work and communicate with Gen Z. In the context of change, emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication skills are our key tools and “helpers” – worth of investing our time and effort.


Why Is Change Challenging?

  • Comfort in the familiar: we tend to seek security and stability, the feeling of comfort and familiarity, preserve our routine and stay in our comfort zone.
  • Fear of unknown: change often brings the unknown, which can cause feelings of insecurity and fear.
  • Loss of control: change often brings loss of control over a situation which causes us to feel helpless and frustrated.
  • Lack of information or support: lack of clear information or support makes the process of adjusting to change even harder, and the lack of communication or understanding can enhance the feeling of insecurity.
  • Habits and behavior patterns: the tendency to be set in our ways and behavior patterns complicated accepting new ways of working or living – and those inevitably come with change.
  • Emotional reactions: change can cause us to react emotionally – anger, sadness, anxiety, and similar emotions toughen the process of adjusting to change.
  • Lack of confidence: fear of failure and the lack of confidence, skills or preparation increase the resistance to changes.


How To Use Diversity and Inclusivity To Speed Up Positive Change

It goes without saying, burying our head in sand and waiting for the situation to resolve itself is not the solution. The first step is admitting the existence of the problem and searching for a solution. This process is twofold; firstly, it is important to raise awareness of the importance of inclusivity in the workplace and enhance cooperation, and secondly, help foreign workers fit in and learn the language.

Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is a topic all employes should be educated on so the whole company can start to think about the positive changes that need to be implemented.

However, just reading through the rules is not enough, and surely, you don’t want your employees to have a feeling of being pressured into something or that the company is just going through the motions. The rules can’t be applied if we don’t talk about them and give them a real purpose by sharing our opinions and experiences. To support this, it is recommended to organize educations and workshops on topics like emotional intelligence and becoming aware of unconscious biases.

Our brains are constantly being bombarded by a ton of information, so they use shortcuts to keep the speed of processing that information at a necessary level. To make sense of it all, information is stored onto “shelves.” This combination: however, makes the brain make mistakes. We judge and “process” people in a similar way – we tend to categorize them based on preconceived notions, stereotypes, and our personal experience. We can never be fully free of these, that is clear, since we go through our life mostly on “autopilot.” That is why the goal of education about uncovering our unconscious bias is to help us become aware of the bias and choose a wiser way of communicating and behaving.

It is also important to spend some time talking about change management – we have to learn what happens to us, our team and colleagues in the process of change in order to make it easier.

More and more workplaces are becoming multicultural and multiethnic environments with the arrival of foreign employees and the goal is to facilitate their assimilation to the new culture and language. Of course, this interculturality comes with challenges, but think of all the learning and growing opportunities! Accepting foreign workers and their differences requires an open mind and readiness to change.

Furthermore, supporting them in the assimilation process is key to their successful integration – not only into the company but society in general. Fundamental in this is learning Croatian – eases the communication and decreases the number of misunderstandings. They become more successful in communicating with colleagues, superiors, clients and customers and their professional development is sped up. When foreign employees are confident in their language skills, their self-confidence is raised – both in professional and personal capacity, resulting in them becoming more active and proactive in various situations. The overall effect is very positive and beneficial – to them, their team, and the whole company.

Knowing the language also means easier creation of social relationships outside of work, which adds to the feeling of happiness and belonging in the new environment.

What You Gain by Approaching Change and Inclusivity in the Right Way

Of course, we can’t skip the What’s in it for me part of this equation 😊. The right approach to change and inclusivity brings a myriad of benefits for the company. We’ll list just a few of the key advantages:

  • Improved communication and cooperation: becoming aware of their colleges’ background, different cultures and behaviors enables employees to feel more comfortable in contact with different cultures. Knowing the language therefore allows the foreign employees to be accepted faster by their local colleagues, as well as get better feedback from clients and customers.
  • Improved team cooperation: different perspectives and experiences create teams who together reach diverse, more creative solutions.
  • Raising cultural sensitivity awareness: employees gain more sensitivity to cultural differences and develop their ability to adjust and understand.
  • Improved integration of new employees: foreign employees fit in easier thanks to the support and resources gained through the program.
  • Decrease of prejudice: education about diversity and inclusivity helps decrease bias and stereotyping between employees.
  • Improved work environment: the daily work atmosphere is more positive, and employees feel like they belong with the company.
  • Increase in productivity: better communication, cooperation, and work atmosphere results in increased positivity of teams and individuals.
  • Strengthening of corporate culture: focus on diversity and inclusivity becomes a key part of corporate culture – bettering company reputation, both internally and externally
  • Increased employee loyalty: employees gain more trust in the company which shows it cares about their wellbeing, encourages diversity and inclusivity – resulting in more loyalty and engagement.

We are sure the listed benefits will motivate you to take action! 😊

Find your formula for success and combine the recommended ingredients with care to achieve your goals and realize positive change with ease.

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