Discussions surrounding diversity and inclusion are now front and center, dominating conversations not only in boardroom but around the dinner table. And, with these conversations comes the hope that positive change can come not only to the country, put to our workplaces as well.
Leaders in the workplace can play a central role in this time of change by creating a professional environment that celebrates and embraces the differences of the people who make up the workforce. After al, encouraging and respecting those differences has been proven to be a performance booster.
But, how can leaders, working with their company’s human resources team, become more intentional when it comes to promoting diversity, inclusion has on the and a sense of belonging? One way to recognize the impact that unconscious bias has on the workforce.
According to research from Google, these subconscious judgments play a role in the decisions we make not only as individuals, but as members of the workforce, where they can find their way into the policies and procedures of our workforce.
These biases can cause people to disregard fantastic ideas, diminish individual potential and create a less-than-ideal workplace environment.
Below are some ways you can tackle biases on the job:
Own your blind spots: The first step in building an inclusive workplace is to acknowledge your own personal biases and how they impact how you relate to others. You and your team should do some personal soul searching and how that impacts hiring decisions, promotions and rewards for great work.
Talk it out: Encourage meaningful dialogues between managers and staff throughout the company. These conversations can indeed change hearts and minds while increasing empathy and understanding among your team.
Accountability: You have talked the talk, now walk the walk. Leaders should hold both themselves and their teams accountable for continually bettering the workplace environment by assessing what their teams are thinking and then acting upon those assessments.
In order to create an inclusive environment at the office, leaders must first model the change they want to see themselves by the way they speak and act to others. When your team sees this and realizes that you not only expect an inclusive attitude but demonstrate one yourself, they will develop one themselves.
The often artificial distinction between a “corporate” work style and the more fanciful “start-up” style is at least an entertaining way to evaluate the potential for productivity. The archetypal imagery dates back to at least the 1970s, when the proto-tech work ethic was just coming into conflict with the way their fathers did things. Probably the most famous example of this contrast was Apple vs. IBM, which culminated in one of the most famous television commercials of all time.
That said, the “corporate” way of doing things has its advantages. Were it not at least somewhat effective, the counterculture movement would have had no opponent by which to measure its achievements.
One thing corporations do with tremendous consistency is document everything. While this can often result in a lot of paper with very little of value printed on it, the practice of reducing institutional knowledge to a form that can be stored, indexed and referenced later is useful and does add to the resiliency and strength of any company, even if it may only have a handful of employees.
It sounds boring, but the practice of “making everything the same” suits a lot of companies that might otherwise careen from one distraction to another in the course of a work day. Making money is a mechanical thing. It is rarely creative, and even if a windfall results from some whimsical idea, corporations will immediately lock it down into something that can be replicated on a regular basis so bills can get paid and shareholders can hit their share price targets and get their dividends.
Even though there are voluminous examples of corporations so large they can’t keep track of what they own, there are plenty of other examples of enterprises that know how to exploit their assets. Large companies with brilliant employees almost always have some method of recognizing patentable technologies, works that are eligible for copyright, and so forth. This is crucial for small companies, as even one valuable IP asset could make the difference between success and failure.
Corporate culture has its place in industry, to be sure. The key is to find the balance between entrepreneurial energy and big company stability. Properly managed, those two complementary forces can help guide a company through its entire growth cycle and secure its value for both its founders and future shareholders.
While all entrepreneurs are business owners, the reverse cannot be true. There’s a unique mindset that defines an entrepreneur, which sets him apart from the majority of established business owners. By taking the time to understand these traits, it’s easier to understand what it really takes to achieve success as a beginning entrepreneur.
Motivated by Passion
All entrepreneurs are motivated by the passion they feel for their particular product or service. An entrepreneur cares about his product, or service, while average business owners are more concerned with the profit their business can produce.
A Different Perspective
While all business owners seek to fulfill a need, the entrepreneur is more concerned with identifying a need that people have yet to acknowledge. By offering an item that will fulfill a future need, entrepreneurs position themselves to be a greater success.
Exploiting Personal Potential
Another advantage that the entrepreneur possesses is the drive to live up to their potential. In fact, many entrepreneurs strive to exceed their potential in all areas of their lives. They learn as much as they can, expose themselves to new situations, and network with professionals from a broad range of fields.
Choosing the Right People
An entrepreneur is only as good as the people with whom he associates and that includes his own staff. By selecting energetic, talented, and passionate individuals, entrepreneurs bring vast resources together to help him succeed. Selecting the right people, who possess positive attitudes, can help the entrepreneur realize his vision more effectively.
Change goes against human nature, which is why most people resist even the smallest changes. However, a successful entrepreneur must embrace change and look for ways to exploit change. Whether you expect it or not, change will always be a part of life, especially in business. By anticipating change and adapting to new circumstances, entrepreneurs can use change to boost their success.
Perseverance is Vital
Starting your own business isn’t easy. It requires long hours and hard work, but, even after you put in that much work, you may still experience setbacks. The key to success isn’t just about the wins. It’s also about bouncing back, after setbacks, and meeting challenges with a determination to overcome them.
While anyone interested in business ownership needs certain resources at their disposal, entrepreneurs seeking to carve out a new niche for themselves need something more. These traits are common among many successful entrepreneurs and provide a template for those interested in creating their own business.
About Graham Zahoruiko
ORANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS LEADER FOR GREATER CORPORATE SHAREHOLDER WEALTH, PUBLIC BENEFIT AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Graham Zahoruiko is a transformational growth leader with over 25 years of entrepreneurial C-Level leadership experience. His objective is to help companies unlock unprecedented growth and increase shareholder value, while delivering an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) that far exceeds the cost of any restructuring or reorganization. He does this by delivering a highly polished “game changing” solution strategy, executable materials, and team mentoring throughout the implementation phase.
The key foundational element of any organization is the right culture. When precisely positioned, the right company values and work environment lead to independent, empowered, self-reflective teams that have both the initiative and the capability to drive new revenue sources, generate higher profitability, and lower operational costs.
The assignments Graham Zahoruiko takes on vary widely based on the specific needs of the companies he works for, but some examples include: interim leadership; positioning and executing an initiative or project; cultural improvements; project and process management; leadership development; growth initiatives; cost efficiencies and improvements; personal career performance coaching; innovation modeling; entrepreneurship; and mentoring.
For a number of years, Graham Zahoruiko has contemplated how he can do the work that he loves but continue to add more purpose, meaning and value. Consultants tend to push harder and harder on the obsession for long-term value for clients.
Combining meaningful work and a meaningful “public benefit” certainly would be ideal. Near and dear to Graham Zahoruiko has always been family, children and disadvantaged. As a background in organizational effectiveness, change management and transformation ideally prepares one for leading through change, Graham is the Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation (www.oepbc.org). Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation delivers high value project-based management consulting services for greater corporate shareholder wealth, public benefit and social responsibility. Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation’s own advocacy efforts focus on families, children and disadvantaged.
While working for a multi-billion dollar energy company, Graham proposed and led an effort to transform a $160 million dollar division with 750 employees and its 4th C-level leader in 5 years from a “cost center” into a “growth center”.
The implementation of this plan involved several key shifts, both in mindset and operation. The first step was the launch of a new culture through the development of a “Cultural Playbook”, which promoted a more innovative generation of employees empowered with the skills and ability to lead the company into a future of unprecedented growth. Graham Zahoruiko also conceptualized, developed, and implemented a QBR (Quarterly Business Review) program and accompanying materials for all senior leaders, resulting in a more consistent reporting format that improved corporate communication, business line health, and tracking mechanisms for leader reviews. This program increased shareholder value by $731 million. Graham also created a C-level leadership presentation for the CEO and Board on the subject of “game changing – change the lens/perspective of thinking” which outlined “the pitch, the proof and the value” of a $1 billion investment. This new thinking derived a 59% IRR, a significant impact on the organization’s P/E Ratio, and a $3.4 billion increase in shareholder value.
When working with a $250 million healthcare company, Graham Zahoruiko found the organization with a global business division comprised of over 350 hands-on IT professionals with expertise in cloud technologies, networking, applications hosting, storage, and disaster recovery. The $60 million division was facing declining revenue.
After rebuilding morale and mentoring the team on leadership and entrepreneurship, Graham helped improve gross margins by up to 40%, and net margins by 17% (12% to 29%) with the addition of $20 million in new revenue bookings. Operations were restructured through offshore centralization, and processes were formalized for the prevention of future revenue and cost leakages. The sales pipeline subsequently grew from $0 to $110M.
Graham Zahoruiko also led the formation a Cloud Software Services sub-business unit, and re-positioned aging software IP into a new offering centered on healthcare data access archiving, reducing ongoing client legacy software costs by 80%. The new release resulted in $15M in revenue opportunity and a recurring revenue stream. The company’s subsequent operating plan focused on continued margin improvement, better client value, innovation, and long-term sustainability of continued revenue growth.
Leveraging very early roots as a repeat start-up entrepreneur, Graham Zahoruiko is an independent management consultant helping leaders improve shareholder value through strategic improvements and transformations in culture, entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth. He has a talent for balancing the business and financial impact of decisions with the people side of the equation.
Northeastern University (Business Management): 1996
Saint John’s Preparatory (General Studies): 1990
Boy Scouts of America (Eagle Scout Award): 1987