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Leaders can help develop positive diversity mindsets in their team.

Fostering positive diversity mindsets

Diversity mindsets are a key factor for diverse teams that work well together.

Having a positive diversity mindset involves knowledge about diversity and its effects and how to handle diversity.

According to research, traits and attributes that foster positive diversity mindsets include:

  • Openness to experience – Teams with higher levels of openness to experience make better use of their diversity
  • Multicultural experiences – Experiencing different cultures provides many benefits, such as reducing ingroup/outgroup biases, and developing a more complex way of thinking about cultures and perspectives.
  • Cultural intelligence – When diverse teams are more aware of cultural differences and able to adjust their perceptions and behaviour, they develop more shared values and trust. We look at cultural intelligence more in a following step.
  • Organisational diversity climate – Having a culture of helping and learning from each other can help foster positive diversity mindsets in individuals. It can also be helpful for knowledge exchange, commitment and identification with the team.

Developing positive diversity mindsets

We suggest leaders can help develop positive diversity mindsets in their team by targeting these traits and attributes in the following ways:

Attribute Leader intervention
Openness to experience Send employees abroad for longer periods of time and support them to engage more deeply with the culture (eg language training).
Multicultural expereinces Select employees for the team who are multicultural or who have multicultural experiences.
Cultural intelligence Provide cultural intelligence training. Leader modelling of culturally intelligent behaviour.
Organisational diversity climate Adopt practices that communicate the team values diversity and encourage interpersonal learning from diverse perspectives. Eg, involve culturally diverse employees in decision-making, offer diversity training and establish mentoring programs for culturally diverse employees.

Your task

Can you think of other possible interventions to develop positive diversity mindsets in your team or organisation? Try to be as creative as you can. Which do you think will be most effective in your situation?

Share your ideas in the comments and discuss suggestions from other learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

Leading Culturally Diverse Teams in the Workplace

Deakin University

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