OI strives to create an inclusive and supportive work environment for all: We respect and value people who have different strengths and come from diverse backgrounds. Diversity and Inclusion is part of our OI Values, and to further emphasise its importance to us, it has been included in our updated Corporate Responsibility strategy for 2021 and beyond.
We know that one of our strengths is the diversity of our global team, but having the talent is only half of the story. In order to truly benefit from having a variety of perspectives, we as individuals have to nurture the right environment for everyone to feel comfortable to express their unique viewpoint.
So, here are five of the ways we at OI think anyone can foster an inclusive work environment:
1. Be open
Open yourself to different perspectives and broaden your horizon! You will see just how nice life can be when you are surrounded by different people with different ideas from yours. After all, wouldn’t you get bored of eating the same thing for breakfast every day? The next time you hear an opinion or an argument which you disagree with, ask for more information and try to understand the other side. Questioning your own assumptions is key to individual growth, and being curious about the opinions of others helps them feel like their perspective matters.
2. Embrace differences
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Individual differences are what make us human: embrace them! This is key to creating an inclusive environment. Ask your colleague how they celebrated Easter holiday or the Ching Ming Festival; try to find out more about other cultures, countries, and communities. Be it on your lunch break or at the coffee corner (if you’re back in the office), or online, just ask. You may find out something new about your colleagues, or their backgrounds.
3. Learn from others
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Being able to know when you need help is not a weakness, but a strength! At OI, you can always ask a colleague when you face a difficult challenge and feel like you need some help. Ask how your colleague would pursue this challenge and how they would deal with obstacles. Maybe they would go about the task or project in a way that you did not originally think of, but also compliments your way of working. Like being open to others’ opinions, learning from them contributes to your own growth and helps them feel included.
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Treating others with respect, regardless of their age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, relationship or family status, (dis)ability, race, ethnicity, nationality, religious and/or political beliefs enables us to use our diversity to work collaboratively, intelligently and effectively. It also allows everyone to feel more included and safe. If everyone feels respected, then people might also be more open to sharing about themselves.
One of our OI Values is committing to push the limits in all that we do, this includes committing to being inclusive! Keep these tips in mind and try using them the next time you can in your work life or even your personal life. If you happen to run into a colleague in your lunch break, why not strike up a conversation about something not directly related to work? You might be surprised by what you have in common.