Change at a workplace is hard and often comes with improvements and challenges which cannot be ignored. Change can be a struggle for employees who often need time to gradually adapt themselves to it, rather than feeling forced into it. Even minor changes, for example, changing your company\u2019s choice of internal messaging app may spark a crossfire, let alone discussions surrounding diversity.\nIf you\u2019re an entrepreneur, you may want to follow the latest trends from time to time to keep up with the competition. But to be a true leader, you also need to account for everyone: to be responsible for the satisfaction of every single member of your team \u2013 to be aware of their needs and concerns, as much as practically possible.\nWhen chants of diversity and inclusion reverberate down the organizational hierarchy, they are met with mixed reactions and sometimes even dead silence, no matter how much we deny it. Some employees celebrate it as a positive step towards creating a \u2018fairer\u2019 and inclusive workplace, whereas in other groups, it may be perceived as an unnecessary optics booster which lowers the hiring bar.\nRest assured, I\u2019m not going to ask you to answer the million-dollar (lawsuit) question: \u201cIf Jack and Jill both performed exceptionally well during an interview, and are equally qualified, who should get the job for a single vacancy?\u201d Either way, it\u2019s hard to win.\nMuch thought and focus are being put into taking by force, a traditionally \u201cstraight, white, cis-male\u201d-dominated workforce and transforming it into a \u2018diverse\u2019 one. But little consideration goes into the cultural implications of such changes which impact the majority of employees in an existing workforce.\nWe cannot work towards diversity and inclusion for all while working against it. Diversity comes with advantages and disadvantages and the key is to leverage the advantages while being aware of the challenges. If not approached carefully, the implementation can often alienate the vast majority of an IT workforce which may be disruptive, and ultimately hinder productivity and collaboration.\nWe want to promote diversity while minimizing any friction or disruptions it may generate. IT managers and executives who are negligent while implementing diversity, could find themselves sending out the wrong message which may in turn work against diversity.\nThese simple tips when adopted by managers and employees help foster a diverse, respectful and productive workplace, without taxing the existing employees.\n1. Don\u2019t \u2018hunt\u2019 for diverse people\nIt often comes across as superficial and is even offensive to diverse people like me. If hiring people for or against their physical characteristics is forbidden and frowned upon, what even is diversity hiring in essence?\nEvery time I\u2019m contacted by a recruiting manager whose title reads \u201cDiversity & Inclusion Specialist,\u201d I voluntarily pass on the opportunity by either thanking the recruiter and politely declining or ignoring the message altogether. No one should ever be denied equal opportunity, but meritocracy comes first. To explicitly hunt for diverse people, gives off a controversial message.\nIn some cases, imperfect implementation of diversity efforts for inclusion\u2019s sake has even led to \u2018disrespect\u2019 for the very groups, in case of Marine Corps for example. If, in this case, there does exist an easy answer that suggests, the reason for lowering the fitness standards could have to do with \u201cmen and women being different in their physical strengths,\u201d don\u2019t be fooled: not all feminists agree on the premise either. The point of these contrasting examples is to demonstrate how this move opens up room for controversy on either side.\n2. Don\u2019t be subjective about equality\nEquality and fairness should be objective for all: even the seemingly-privileged. In some workplaces the problem lies with employees and managers making casually sexist or tangentially racist remarks without realizing so due to their inherent biases. IT managers and HR teams have been getting quick to identify and address such instances before they even occur.\nIn other workplaces however, team members feel justified in making jokes at the expense of quasi-privileged groups, such as straight white males or Christian employees. This is an equally serious problem. Even though at its face value, such a scenario may appear innocuous and playful, from an objective standpoint it does very much target a group of individuals and therefore should be avoided.\nKeep in mind not everyone may be vocal about their opinions and may often play along with the crowd in good humor, but that does not necessarily imply their endorsement of such a sense of humor, or that they aren\u2019t offended by it. It is discriminatory from an objective standpoint.\n3. Don\u2019t be presumptuous\nAt different workplaces, time and time again I have noticed colleagues making casual comments targeting a political candidate or group at the opening of a business meeting. They often don\u2019t have malicious intentions and don\u2019t want to make anyone uncomfortable. They may unconsciously assume that a \u201cTrump\u201d or a \u201cClinton\u201d supporter is somewhere out there, but these assumptions can be misleading.\nI assure you when it comes to politics, people are very diversely unpredictable. Very likely, a significant majority of your teammates may lean politically either way despite demonstrating no obvious signs which would otherwise hint to their political affiliation. Unless you know everyone at a very personal level, which is unlikely, it is for the best if presumptions and discussions surrounding politics are kept out.\nPresumptions also go beyond politics: don\u2019t assume because someone is Asian, they would be eating Asian food or vice-versa. You may be left surprised, if not disappointed.\n4. Don\u2019t form cliques carelessly\nWe are all adults and cannot control who someone picks as their friend, foe and a mere acquaintance. In recent times however, technology companies are adopting more of an experimental, university-style model by letting employees form special interest groups, such as \u201cWomen in IT,\u201d \u201cLGBTQ Inclusion Forum,\u201d etc. The advantage of housing these efforts is that they may help create \u2018safe spaces\u2019 even in the business world and in \u2018marketing diversity\u2019 for hiring purposes.\nAn undeniable obvious disadvantage is that such efforts often come across as divisive, counterproductive and even \u2018alienating\u2019 to the vast majority who may already be for diversity to begin with. A rhetorical question that follows is, \u201cwhere does it stop?\u201d If the purpose of diversity is inclusion for everyone in a team, a clique does just the opposite by subtly suggesting exclusivity.\nIf we could have one group for every individual who is different and diverse, we would end up with 8 billion \u201ccliques\u201d of one. Your IT team is now no longer \u201ca team\u201d who work together, with each other. The message of uniformity gets somewhat distorted leaving some confused. In case of toxic workplaces, cliques may even evolve into employees working against each other to some extent.\n5. Don\u2019t be too pushy\nOur goal should be to have employees from different backgrounds and experiences to naturally \u2018blend in\u2019 and for everyone to feel comfortable expressing themselves spontaneously as we undergo a cultural transformation. Pushing an agenda can be detrimental to achieving this very effect.\nThere is a time and place for activism and a workplace is neither no matter how confident a CEO or some employees of the team may be in the righteousness of their beliefs. At the end of the day, all viewpoints are individualistic opinions.\nFor example, it may be tempting to correct each other in using more so-called inclusive nouns such as \u201cperson-power\u201d as opposed to \u201cmanpower,\u201d or \u201csalesperson\u201d as opposed to \u201csaleswoman,\u201d but too much pedantry can often be disruptive and even infuriating even if otherwise endorsed by HR. Mutual respect is an essential ingredient of high-performing teams.\nPedantry on the other hand is analogous to repeatedly correcting an immigrant\u2019s pronunciation of a certain word despite being aware that they come from a different background and aren\u2019t purposely pronouncing something \u201cincorrectly.\u201d We don\u2019t want to be so punitive that the employees are compelled to rethink before uttering even the slightest sentence or a novel idea, which may have no relation to gender studies to begin with.\nThe bright side is, you can embrace your own style without pushing it on others. You can be pro-diversity, without being anti-anyone. You can use more inclusive nouns and pronouns even if others don\u2019t see a need to.\n6. Don\u2019t breed \u2018echo chambers\u2019\nWe are aware of the unfortunate events that took place at Google which left parties divided: the workforce and the public alike. To be specific, \u201ca Harvard-Harris Poll survey showed that 55% of those polled said Google was wrong to fire Damore, including 61% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 50% of Democrats.\u201d If a management decision at your organization warrants hosting \u201copen discussion\u201d forums on touchy subjects, then one must be prepared to open an unsavory can of worms along with it.\nA safer route of course, is to evade the risky territory: to avoid discussions at work deemed even tangentially political altogether. For example, a casual discussion on benefits like maternity leave, recently dubbed \u201cfamily or parental leave,\u201d may be met with opposing views \u2013 employees surely desire it, but employers have to pay for it. If a discussion comes up about promoting diversity, expect a handful of employees to have valid reasons against it.\nThe point is not which opinion is right or wrong \u2013 both sides may have differing opinions which may seem correct and very reasonable to some and just preposterous to others. Bottomline is, if absolute \u201cfairness\u201d and neutrality cannot be ensured, then it is probably best to refrain from bringing politically charged discussions into a workplace. Anyone who took the time to read the actual Google memo would understand the memo did not have any derogatory language per se or curse words but an opinion which caused tension at work.\n7. Don\u2019t count on \u2018privilege\u2019\nAs an immigrant, I attest this is a tough one because it is largely engrained in the American education system and reinforced by the mainstream media, in my opinion. It may often seem intuitive to be \u201cbiased\u201d and assume that because an employee is a \u201cstraight, white, Christian, male\u201d they are inherently privileged and that their needs are secondary. This is not always true. Or, you may hold that \u201cwomen have it easy in a lot of ways\u201d and yet both parties can be right and wrong.\nThese opinions are often result of subjective experiences and do little at a workplace other than causing conflict. If you are a firm believer in a certain group of individuals being privileged due to whatever reason, it is best to keep this belief to yourself.\nChances are that \u201cprivileged\u201d teammates exist around you who have had their fair share of struggles growing up which you did not. If you speak to them with an open mind, you may realize they are not that privileged after all despite being \u201cprivileged.\u201d Even if you don\u2019t, always refrain from making derogatory remarks about individuals of any group; at the very least you would have soured your relationship with them.\nIn conclusion, diversity should be implemented with consideration for everyone in mind. Diversity is not a license to be biased against or towards anyone. When you selectively put needs of certain employees over that of the team, you practice exclusion which in effect kills diversity. Neutrality is an underestimated yet a powerful asset a manager has when promoting diversity and fairness.\nThe challenge seldom lies in finding diverse individuals who are talented, but rather in \u2018blending in\u2019 diversity effortlessly into an existing culture, without being pushy about it. Above all, listen to all your employees. We cannot promote inclusion by excluding the majority: most of whom are decent human beings and have no issue whatsoever with diversity.