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Companies with more inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments, according to Deloitte.


And it’s cognitive diversity – diversity of thought generated by a diverse group of people, who think differently and experience the world differently – that’s particularly important in helping teams come up with solutions more quickly.


How do you bring together such a group of people successfully?


In the latest episode of the Inclusion Works podcast, Fiona Young – Head of Diversity and Inclusion Practice at Hive Learning, spoke to Yari Blanco, the senior manager of culture and diversity at The Wing – a network of work and community spaces (from meeting rooms to beauty rooms) designed for women.


The Wing describes themselves as an incubator for connections and networking, friendships and support, mentoring and finding shared experience. The Wing has more than 6,000 members across the USA, and plans to expand worldwide in 2019.


Here’s a preview of what Yari had to say…




When I joined The Wing I was like, “Wow,” my light bulb went off. Here’s a community that I really care about, here’s a brand that I’m really emotionally invested in, and here’s something that I know that I can naturally do and I can lead at. I’m just grateful that they saw that as well and they were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And let’s try to lead the way in this conversation that a lot of people are struggling with, or that other companies really want to do well at but haven’t been able to find their lane in.


My scope of work is really focused on making sure that there’s diversity, equity, inclusion, in general across the board. What that means is diversity within our membership, making sure that there’s racial equity, but that there’s also diversity across age, across gender presentation, across religion, culture, anything that you could think of. When it comes to diversity inclusion, I try to make sure that that’s represented within our community.


I think a lot of my work around culture inclusion and diversity is really about making sure that people, marginalized communities that have very often been left out of the conversation or have not been passed the mic to, myself being part of that community, I wanted to champion that.


And that’s how you get diversity of thought. You have people that come from different backgrounds, whether you grew up with a single parent home like myself, or you grew up with 10 other siblings, or you grew up rich or poor, all those different things end up building who you are as a person, and that’s what you bring to the table.

That’s what makes us special, because then we’re not producing or doing the same thing over and over again. The point is to be innovative and the only way that you get there is through a group of diverse people.


And how do you encourage your members to bring their whole selves to The Wing?

That’s a great question. I do it, hopefully, by leading by example. I show up as myself and I introduce myself. I’m just Yari from Queens and I don’t try to be anybody else. I don’t code switch for anybody. I’m going to be my loud, funny self and that doesn’t take away from how intelligent I am or how capable I am.


I think about when you walk in; what is your experience even if you’re not a member? So something that I’m really proud of is our beauty rooms, which have products for all hair textures. It sounds like something that’s so small, but I know that as someone, myself, that someone else has curly hair, that’s something that people are constantly tweeting and tagging us on, because they cannot believe that our spaces have edge control, because no other place has that.


So talking about representation is not just seeing people that look like you. It’s also about those things in the beauty room, it’s about if in San Francisco, there’s a large population of XYZ community, is that reflected in our menus? Dani, who is our culinary director, makes sure that whatever city we’re in there’s a portion of the menu that represents the communities that are historically from those cities.


All those little details we really, really pay attention to, and when you put them together, that’s a signal that we’re sending to you that tells you I belong in this space, and that’s ultimately what we want. I think that’s how we encourage people to be able to show up as themselves when they walked through those doors.


So what is one simple thing anyone could do this week to build inclusion in the workplace?

Something that I’ve always told my white counterparts is that a white person, especially in a company setting, has so much less to lose than anybody else that’s in that room. The chances of you being heard is a hundred times more than anybody else. So use that privilege and use that power to pass the mic to somebody else that you know has the answers, has a solution, or simply has a great idea that just needs somebody to back them up.


You have nothing to lose and I promise you it will do wonders not just for yourself as an individual, but for your career, for your department, for your team. It feels very simple, and it is something very small, and it will absolutely change your life.

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