Today, the world celebrates International Day of Tolerance; an incredibly important occasion for us all to reflect on what tolerance means and how we play our part to increase it. Here are my thoughts on how global organizations are tolerance in action and how we can ensure tolerance abounds in the workplace going forward.
Tolerance is a willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. It is respecting the right of others to an opinion or practice; it doesn’t mean agreeing with the opinion or practice itself. This can be challenging as it’s human nature to tend to think we’re right about everything. However, all intolerance springs from a lack of awareness. If we become aware of others’ cultures, religions, politics, etc. we can better understand and empathize with each other. And understanding and empathy are key to tolerance.
In a multinational company, we truly see tolerance in action. There are many ethnicities, nationalities, faiths, and cultures all thrown together professionally and united under the same organizational principles and objectives. It’s necessary to put any differences aside and work together as a team in order to achieve success. In some organizations where engagement is high, multicultural employees may even come to consider themselves as one family. If this isn’t the best springboard for tolerance, I don’t know what is!
To encourage tolerance in your organization be sure to prioritize communication so your employees become more engaged. Trust and encouraged dialogue are the foundations of openness and transparency. It’s also advisable to lay out a zero-tolerance policy that guides employees on issues relating to any unacceptable behavior surrounding issues where tolerance is a priority. This will also foster a supportive and productive work environment. Always practice respect and kindness to others in your language and avoid any comments that may cause offense. Also, if you do see intolerance, stand up for those who are being treated unfairly. These may sound like obvious things but sometimes they can be neglected.
Finally, in my opinion, these are the most important attitudes to promote tolerance: treating others as you would wish to be treated and focusing on our many commonalities as opposed to what separates us. Remember, all intolerance springs from ignorance and fear, and fear sprouts from the unknown. So, by taking the time to get to know people we consider ‘different’ from ourselves, we see that as humans our needs, concerns, and desires are all similar, we come to understand that we are all alike. Happy International Day of Tolerance.
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