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Rommel Anacan

Welcome to my blog on MFI! This blog allows me to have an ongoing conversation with multifamily professionals like you. My focus is on helping you and your companies succeed by helping you optimize the quality of your relationships. If you'd like more information about me, my company and the ways that I can help you, please visit my website at www.RelationshipDifference.com

Four Keys to Building Diversity

Four Keys to Building Diversity

Diversity. It's one of the hottest "hot button" issues in the workplace today. Data and real-world experience tell us that embracing diversity and inclusion (in all forms) and harnessing our differences creates higher-performing teams. Yet our experiences also tell us that this is often easier said than done. 


The fact of the matter is that we ARE different. We have many things that do differentiate us from one another. And it IS often hard to bridge those gaps because we all think our way is the right way. 


But something can be done!


I spent much of my childhood in Hawaii. Growing up in Hawaii is an interesting experience because no one ethnic group is in the majority. Now, the one thing I will say is that “Asians" as a general group outnumber the other groups, even though each individual Asian community would be adamant that they were different than the other Asian groups! So when I looked around a room, while I didn’t always see people who were exactly like me, I did see lot of people who looked similar. 


Then my parents moved to Southern California while I was in high school and I realized I was firmly in the minority! While that did feel weird at first, thankfully, my friends didn’t treat me any differently just because I looked different from many of them.  I was just “Rommel” and not a member of a group. Likewise, I saw my friends as “Mike” or “Shelley” or “Tammy” and not as a member of a group either. 


Yes, I knew they were white, black, Hispanic etc. And yes, they all knew I was Asian. But it didn’t matter because we saw each other as individuals first and foremost and not just as a member of a category.That’s where we got it right-and where many organizations get it wrong. 


According to a Harvard University study of 829 companies over 31 years, diversity training had "no positive effects in the average workplace.” In other words most diversity training programs don’t work and actually create less diversity and inclusion! So while the intentions have been good, the results have not always been. 


So what can you do to increase diversity?


One: Don’t categorize-individualize!


Remember when I told you that my friends and I didn’t see each other as a member of a “category” we saw each other as individuals. This is key. When we discriminate against someone we tend to discriminate against the group and not the individual. 


Let me explain further….


I cannot tell you how many times people have told me in my life, “For an Asian guy, you’re really (funny/friendly/interesting/whatever other adjective here).” Which made me wonder, "What did you think of Asian people??"


As “Rommel” people just saw me as “Rommel." (And in case you're wondering it's pronounced Roe-mell.) As a member of the category, they might have expected me to be something else. But the more I interacted with them (and vice versa) the more the barriers came down and we just connected as individuals. Just like my friends and I did. 


So if your diversity training only focuses on grouping people into different categories and seeing people only as groups in different categories, it may actually reinforce the differences between people and have the opposite effect of what you want!


Two: Create Opportunities for Diverse People to Work Together


One of the most effective things you can do to build diversity is to provide opportunities for diverse people to work together. Put different people together on a team. Have different people work on a project. Allow different people to see each other as INDIVIDUALS and not as members of a category. 


BTW: When I say different I’m not just talking race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion etc. I’m talking about people from different departments, portfolios, regions, and job duties too. 


Three: Give Them The People Skills to Pay the Bills


Instead of just traditional “diversity training” I would recommend you provide robust communication and people skills training. As Peter Bregman said in Psychology Today, “Instead, train them to do their work with a diverse set of individuals. Not categories of people. People. Teach them how to have difficult conversations with a range of individuals. Teach them how to manage the variety of employees who report to them. Teach them how to develop the skills of their various employees.”


By helping people connect with one another as humans you help people see each other as individuals-which is the key to diversity. 


When we see each other as individuals; when we have the tools and skills we need to communicate, connect and engage with different people, when we build good relationships with diverse individuals, we become more willing to listen to others and to give people the dignity of having their own experiences, even if they differ from ours. This enables us to become much more EMPATHETIC.


Empathy allows us to accept that our “truth” may not be someone else’s truth. It helps us to admit that just because something doesn’t happen to me, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening to someone else. We are also able to share our truth with love and respect. We open up our hearts and our minds to receive new and different ideas and to fully understand that we need each other to succeed. 


This is where the magic happens!


If you’d like suggestions on people skills resources that I recommend, please email me at rommel AT rommelanacan.com


Four: Understand Your Way


You have a unique point of view. You have a certain “way” that you view the world, experience the world and interact with the world. You have your own way, just as I do. What you want to be aware of is what that “way” is and how it shapes how you frame and interpret everything. Be honest with yourself! Once you know your default way you'll have a better understanding of what you need to do more or less of to foster more diversity in your world. 


Yes, there is more to this!


Obviously the format of a blog means that I cannot cover all that I’d like to in this post. So keep an eye out for future posts on this subject! BTW I'm not suggesting you don't talk about diversity or let your people know that diversity is important to you. What I am suggesting is that you consider being diverse in your diversity training! 


Until next time~thanks for reading!


This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for sharing this post, Rommel! The Harvard study that shows diversity training had no impact is mind-blowing to me, but what a great point you make about the importance of seeing each individual rather than a category. I look forward to more on the subject!

  Jen Piccotti
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for reading and commenting Jen! That Harvard study blew my mind too...but as I read it I realized that it echoed much of my experience attending D/I training in the past!

  Rommel Anacan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great post! Also want to add - make developers + equity realize how much $ they are leaving on the table not addressing it. I wrote a post addressing the metrics recently, which I think makes the best use case - it affects your bottom line + legacy.

  Meghna Krishna Bondili
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thank you for reading and sharing!!

  Rommel Anacan

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