Following the mass protests and grassroots social movements that have come to define the summer of 2020, many businesses felt compelled to speak up and reevaluate their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Not only was it the right thing to do, but recent research from Monster found that, “more than 86% of candidates say that diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are important to them and 62% of people would go as far as turning down a job offer if it came from a culture that didn’t support a diverse workforce.” It’s feedback like this from job seekers that earned DEI a spot on Medix’s list of the hiring trends that will define 2021.

Thanks to individual employees, many organizations have recognized the importance of these efforts in the last year; however, achieving the kind of progress being asked for across all industries is another story. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “Organizations cannot become multicultural by proclamation. It takes concerted effort.” In other words, while posts on social media talking about creating a diverse workforce may be a positive step forward, real change requires action at a personal level.

To get there, individuals within an organization need to develop the skills that allow for real growth within a company culture. SHRM identifies five traits leaders and employees alike must focus on when adopting a diverse mindset: Openness, Flexibility, Social Dexterity, Emotional Awareness and Curiosity.

Here’s what research behind soft skills tells us about each of these five critical traits. Through self evaluation, you can identify which areas are strengths for you, and which ones may need some development. By bringing more awareness to these five traits within yourself, you and your teammates can help drive DEI efforts in any organization:

Openness

When it comes to openness, it’s a characteristic that points to a person being “receptive” in terms of their communication style. These people tend to be low in dominance in terms of their personality and don’t feel a need to influence others in order to be motivated. Employees who are able to tap into this sense of openness can be powerful allies as organizations expand their DEI efforts. A workplace that embraces these receptive communication styles allows different opinions and thoughts to be heard in a group, rather than having each person simply caring about their own opinions and trying to convince others to see things their way. Ultimately, the goal is to open up more opportunity for diversity of thought to be expressed and implemented in group settings.

Flexibility

No, flexibility doesn’t just refer to a person’s yoga skills! Rather, it’s an indication of people who may appear lower in grit in terms of personality and have a low need for competition to be motivated. While a lack of grit or competitiveness may sound like a negative to some, what this means is that this person may be more likely to change what they are doing in order to move onto whatever is more valuable for them to be working on — showing that they are flexible and adaptable to their environment.

Think of it this way: When someone is able to switch their focus to what is best for the team, and is also motivated by doing things as a collective effort, then the group as a whole is going to be more open to success. This creates a culture of support for one another, which is key when making diversity a top priority.

Social Dexterity

One of the ways organizations become closed off from the principles of DEI in the workplace is through the forming of cliques — small social circles designed to exclude those with differing interests and opinions. Thankfully, one of the most powerful weapons for breaking through the clique mentality are individuals with high levels of social dexterity. These people energize teams by having highly extroverted personalities and an intense need for relations to be motivated. With social dexterity in a group, there’s less of a chance for ‘outsiders’ to be pushed aside, since those energizing individuals will seek out connections with everyone.

Emotional Awareness

One crucial element of social awareness is emotional awareness, or the ability to make decisions and base actions first and foremost on how it impacts others. In other words, people who understand emotional awareness have highly empathetic personalities and are motivated by their need for belonging. Individuals who put an emphasis around being emotionally aware of those around them are going to help empower an inclusive culture by making sure that nobody is forgotten. By finding ways to allow everyone in a group to feel as though their thoughts and opinions are being considered, these individuals help to make others feel seen and heard within an organization.

Curiosity

Critical thinking personalities are naturally curious; they are motivated by a need for variety in their daily activities. Curious people ask a lot of questions, and this can be an invaluable trait as organizations seek out a path to DEI efforts that work for their organization and team culture. In most cases, curious thinkers are not interested in having cookie cutter individuals on their team. Instead, they are energized by people who have different backgrounds, skills, cultures, and opinions from their own. This helps to empower an inclusive workplace by fostering a culture of learning.

Identify Your Soft Skills to Empower DEI

These five traits — Openness, Flexibility, Social Dexterity, Emotional Awareness and Curiosity — may be the key to unlocking a new era of diversity in the workplace. Do any of them sound familiar to you?

To begin developing these skills within yourself, the first step is measuring where you stand in each category. With that baseline knowledge, it will then be easier to find ways to apply your areas of strength to DEI efforts within your control at an organization. For areas in which you may be deficient, this is a time to create plans for developing in the areas critical for fostering the type of work environment so many are fighting to make a reality.

Looking to learn more about how you can use your soft skills to grow diversity, equity and inclusion at your organization? Take the MyPrint® soft skills assessment today to unlock personality insights that can drive change! Click here to get started.