Having a diverse and inclusive workplace is a priority for most organizations. And like most priorities, it takes a team and a set of goals to address diversity and inclusion (D&I). While those are good and necessary things, there’s something even more fundamental that’s required of everyone, says Workday Chief Diversity Officer Carin Taylor.
In order to make stronger connections with each other, we need to share our experiences—including the difficult ones.
“Diversity and inclusion is less about a program, and more about helping people become comfortable enough to have a dialog about their experiences—including times when we have felt like an outsider,” says Taylor. “Only through talking can we connect with others and gain a better understanding and appreciation of our differences.”
Taylor, who joined Workday as our first chief diversity officer in December 2017, acknowledges that starting the conversation isn’t always easy. As an icebreaker, she’ll openly share her own experiences, including reactions she’s gotten when traveling throughout Asia. While in China, for example, some locals—who perhaps had never seen someone with her skin color—would stop and stare, touch her skin, and even ask to take photographs with her.
Yet rather than getting angry or frustrated, she was intrigued by those reactions to her skin color. “There would be family members jumping up and down behind me trying to get in the photo,” she recalls with a chuckle. “It helped me understand that people were curious about my difference, and more importantly, it raised my curiosity about the differences of others.”
Years later, that experience and others made her realize that D&I initiatives shouldn’t focus on minimizing our differences. Instead, they should be about acknowledging, understanding, and ultimately, accepting and celebrating all of our differences, she says.