What’s Your DQ? Diversity intelligence is an important skill for workplace leaders

Most workplace leaders know that diversity is important to their organization, and that some classes of employees are protected by law, but many probably don’t realize that these laws probably cover the majority of employees in their workplaces? Protected classes are based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, and family medical history and genetic information. Most employees fit into at least one of these categories, and all employees are protected from discrimination when it comes to pay.

Employees are the most important asset in an organization, and in order to develop, grow and succeed, all employees need to feel valued and supported. However, my research suggests that workplace leaders have some work to do when it comes to supporting employees in these protected classes.

Recently, I conducted focus groups of workplace leaders, asking them about their knowledge of protected class employees and about their own and others’ behavior toward these employees. While most respondents were familiar with the concept of “protected class employee,” one third of the respondents could not list all the types of protected class employees. When asked if they had observed others in their workplace being “recklessly stubborn against application of laws and orders protecting employees in the workplace,” half of the respondents said they had.

This points to a need for increased diversity intelligence, or DQ, among supervisors at all levels within organizations. DQ is the capability of individuals to recognize the value of workplace diversity and to use this information to guide thinking and behavior.

Workplaces already emphasize intellectual intelligence (IQ), Emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence (CQ). Adding DQ to this list would help supervisors better understand and implement the policies of their workplaces, and keep their organizations in line with federal law. This is where human resources can help. Human resource professionals are part of their organization’s leadership team, and they can help their colleagues understand what is required by law, and what the organization’s policies say about diversity.

Incorporating DQ into leadership training is an important step in helping leaders understand and implement diversity policies. While diversity training and education has been an element of leadership training in many workplaces, the diversity in most workplaces does not reflect the diversity of the country has a whole. Along with our findings that many leaders are not sufficiently familiar with protected classes, this suggests a need for a change in how this training is presented.

Diversity training often focuses on accepting differences and reducing bias, but DQ is more than just these things. The first step is to make sure workplace leaders have a thorough understanding of what the law requires when it comes to protected class employees, as well as an understanding of what their organization’s code of ethics has to say about diversity.

Organizations also need to bridge the gap between what workplace leaders know about diversity and how their knowledge is reflected in their actions. Leader must understand that their decisions and ethics affect their entire organization. As part of their training, I recommend that leaders hear from people who are affected by discrimination and understand how discriminatory behavior negatively affects their workplace. They should be encouraged to challenge discriminators and hold them accountable for their actions.

All too often, employees in protected classes are undervalued, marginalized, and ignored. This keeps them from making important contributions to their workplaces, and prevents their organizations from reaching their full potential. Human resource professionals have an opportunity to benefit their organizations by helping workplace leaders increase their DQ and support all employees equally. They can also help their organization by helping supervisors understand that DQ requires a mindset shift, and this mindset shift includes viewing diversity from an ethical decision making perspective.

Credit : Claretha Hughes, @camillamedders
With permission from : HR.com
Magazine Name : Leadership Excellence, August 2018
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