Ann Marie Puig


Ann Marie Puig explains how to lead the shift to diversity in the workplace

It has been proven that cultural diversity and inclusion must be incorporated effectively for businesses to operate successfully. However, it is common that the correct policies are not implemented or the initiative is not articulated in an adequate way. Ann Marie Puig, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Costa Rica, discusses how business owners and leaders can, and should, be more proactive in creating a more diverse workplace.

Leaders have the responsibility to understand the DNA of the workplace and drive diversity policies that will result in an inclusive and responsive workforce. This will help employees truly embrace the diversity gene. The most obvious way to do this is to lead the cause. “To bring about change, leadership needs to take the issue of diversity seriously and lead by example. So, the first step is to demonstrate your commitment to the cause,” asserts Puig.

One of the first steps is to research the benefits. There is a lot of evidence about the business advantages that diversity brings to business. This will help convince the most skeptical about the need to change, and will provide a justification for investing in new initiatives.

Make diversity and inclusion a core value will also be beneficial, as well as practical. The values of a company motivate behaviors. So, to put good intentions into practice, it is necessary to have a common set of values and behaviors associated with the basis of a company’s culture. This can eliminate some of the noise and allow faster progress.

Setting goals in the company will help ensure its diversity initiatives are understood. Making diversity a core value may not be enough on its own. Leaders should set clear goals on which they will measure progress.

It’s also possible to link progress to salary. It is said that “only what is measured is managed.” Therefore, leaders should include diversity and inclusion objectives in the management team’s compensation model to motivate change.

Purely symbolic measures should be avoided at all times. States Puig, “Incorporating a woman or a person of a different ethnicity into the senior management team is not enough to ensure that a wide range of opinions is heard, and that the organization takes advantage of diversity.”

To offer a more diverse workplace, leaders need to reduce the hiring and promotion of similar profiles. It takes leaders to have courage and choose diversity. Training on “unconscious bias” can help professionals at all levels of the organization avoid the temptation to hire and promote professionals who have the same style, and speak and think the same way.

Introducing sponsors can go a long way. Support programs can have a more significant impact on diversity than simple mentoring schemes. Companies need to have a mindset that wants to recruit or identify, nurture and train talent that is most likely already within their organizations.

Feeling comfortable with discomfort is not a bad thing. The first step toward change must be a willingness to talk about diversity. This can be uncomfortable because we don’t necessarily know the right language to have these kinds of conversations. However, it is necessary to recognize and break down barriers, give way to openness and honesty.

Share stories that inspire. Talking openly about what motivates change in the company can help leaders motivate others and help them overcome the complexity of putting theory into practice.

A team needs to be more diverse to get better results. When a company lays out the framework and shows that it is committed, employees will respond positively, as well. This will lead to a more diverse workplace as a course of standard progression, allowing the business to be more receptive and successful.