How To Build Diversity In Your Business
Morgan Browne is the President and Co-Founder of Oakwyn Realty, one of Vancouver’s fastest-growing brokerage firms.
When building a company, you must decide the core values that represent your brand. For myself, that meant sitting down and evaluating my experiences so that I could bring something transformative to the industry. As a young woman from a minority background, I began my career by learning the many obstacles that face those who come from minority groups, whether that means gender, race or another marginalized identity. Learning to overcome these challenges and grow from them has been one of my greatest learning experiences and one that I continue to embrace as one of the leaders of Oakwyn Realty.
Statics Canada has found that 75.6% of women were participating in the labor force, almost 12% less than men. This earning power is even more decreased amongst minority, immigrant and indigenous communities. Our company was founded by three agents, all of whom come from a minority background, with two of us being women. As a result, we not only recognize the importance of diversity, but also the power and strength that it brings to our team. Together we have made it our priority to build an inclusive company, where diversity is more than an office buzzword.
Invite New Ideas
Including diversity in your business structure is an opportunity to introduce new ideas into your company. When you are working with a wide variety of people, all with different backgrounds and opinions, your results will be more reflective of the community you serve. Far too often we see groups of leaders who, despite their best intentions, are making decisions based on the experiences of an identical group of people. By opening our doors to inclusivity, we have strengthened our ties with our community, team members and clients.
At Oakwyn, we make it our mission to incorporate regular staff huddles and communication among teams. Unlike other brokerages, we have designed our office as a place for agents and staff to work together. This collaborative environment enables our management team to hear more ideas and breed innovation in the workplace. Outside of the office, we work hard to recognize our team and encourage them to be more present in the industry, whether it’s a speaking opportunity, media interview or on social media. The more perspectives available and shared, the more thought out and strategic you can be in your industry.
Show Your Support
Being an inclusive company, we have been so fortunate to work with people of all backgrounds, religions and sexual orientations. Actively showing your support and appreciation for the diverse members of your team goes above and beyond hiring diversely. In my first years of business, I established the Women of Oakwyn (WOO) event, which was designed to celebrate, recognize and support women in the real estate industry. WOO was designed to provide women with an environment that encourages diversity and collaboration and where women can feel free to succeed without fear. I created WOO because I saw an area of our industry that needed to be strengthened and knew I had the ability to make it happen.
Identifying your own strengths and aligning them with areas that need improvement is the first step in creating a more supportive workplace. Take the time to speak to your team and find out what they would want to see improved in their industry and community. By understanding your team’s needs, you can begin to align your support in a way that makes them feel seen and heard. My goal with WOO was to empower women, and by listening to them and sharing their stories, I have been able to do so.
Actions Speak Louder
In addition to WOO, our team is actively participating in community events such as the Vancouver Pride Parade in support of our LGBTQ+ team members. We choose to show our support in the Pride Parade, but there are so many ways that a business can support its team members. Donating to a supportive cause, participating in a charity run or contributing your time for volunteer service at a local charity are all ways that your business can give back to the community. The key is to pick something that aligns with your team’s values and encourages them to be involved in the process. Find out what your team believes in and what they want to change and help them make it happen! Showing up for your team unasked and celebrating them is crucial in building respect. I hope that by recognizing our differences and encouraging them, we attract more people who wish to express themselves and feel respected in their work environments.
As someone who has been on both the employee and employer sides of a business, I can speak to the positive impact that diversity inclusion makes on a team. My best advice would be to take the time to listen and consider all voices, not just the one that reflects your own opinions. If you are looking to build a diverse team, you must be actively listening and trying to understand people’s stories from their own perspective. Use this insight and incorporate it into your business strategy and actively work to make your business a more welcoming and inclusive one. By incorporating diversity, you are building more than an inclusive workplace, you are building a community.
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