Building Trust and Respect for Diversity and Inclusion

When we form a new team, how do we begin to trust and build respect for each other? How do leaders know they are doing the right thing? How do we know our employee’s strengths and build inclusion?

On understanding your employee’s strengths, the Clifton Strengths are an interesting personality analysis with a strong focus on what works for each individual. The results can be helpful when selecting staff for new projects or setting up collaborative teams. 

I was required to take the Clifton Strengths survey when I joined my current team, and was given the book which explains each characteristic in depth. I later discussed the strengths with my manager and her team, revealing more about my personality and preferences to them. They shared their strengths and stories with me. I felt respected and included. When we gathered as a team to meet 40 other employees, we made little signs to encourage interaction.

On our diverse team, these signs helped people look deeper, beyond the outside appearances, at what each person could contribute to the team. It was okay to be different; we learned we could compliment and support each other in our projects because we were diverse.  

I have seen deviant managers and employees destroy trust within their teams too often. At one large company, our leaders conducted an anonymous employee survey each year. The survey results were used to evaluate management, HR practices and culture, and create management action plans for the next year. I watched managers actively hunt down employees through their anonymous survey comments. Employees trust managers to do the right thing. When managers act in deviant ways or support deviant employees, all trust in that manager is destroyed.  

I have also experienced the opposite. I have seen managers who respect their staff and encourage respect amongst their team. These managers actively and respectfully ask questions to determine people’s interests, preferences, and long-term goals. These managers treat their staff as unique individuals and celebrate each individual’s milestones, innovation, and accomplishments. They conduct team-building activities, organize breaks and lunches, and warmly welcome every new individual. They give employees time and directions to interact with each new team member. Once these managers learn what their employees want to do in their work, they use that information to introduce them to others, set up flexible work schedules, or improve their staff’s resumes by giving them challenging and interesting assignments.

I recommend this Society for Human Resource Management Building Trust as a Manager article to identify employees who lack trust in their leader. The article contains a series of steps we can take to become trust-worthy managers and supervisors. 

I work in an organization with >40,000 employees, a very diverse global workforce. I am proud of our diversity. As an individual contributor, I build trust and respect often on my projects by stating my intentions, following through on my plans, communicating openly and honestly about issues, and being consistent in my communications with others regardless of the age, gender, race, religion, or other characteristics. When I see someone who is different being excluded, I actively reach out and make sure they are included. Building trust and respect is the key to creating that diverse and inclusive workforce. 

Sources: Requirements for a Diverse Workforce: Clifton Strengths Theme page:

Society of Human Resource Management: