When I decided to work abroad, I didn’t know what kinds of problems I would face in Japan as a foreigner. At that time, 25 years ago, I had no idea what being a minority would feel like because I wasn’t a minority then. I had no idea. This is the issue with diversity and inclusion that most of the time people can relate to how minorities feel intellectually, but not emotionally.
Many companies around the world have robust programs that aim at promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However, unless such programs go deeper than creating awareness, there won’t be real progress. If the topic is important for you, maybe there are things you can do to tackle the core issues, as well.
As coaches, we work with HR departments and senior leaders. We can walk the talk and become role models. If we have clients from different walks of life, different ethnic or linguistic backgrounds, we can informally talk about how interesting and enriching our experience working with them is. We can mention how seeing the world through our clients’ eyes is eye opening. Through our experience, the people we talk with may see the opportunities lying ahead for them as well.
Coaching People from Minority Groups
We can proactively seek clients from minority groups. Different people have different issues and needs. It is not appropriate to make stereotypical generalizations on what minorities may need. Speaking from my experience, I encountered people who couldn’t believe they were more than capable, but actually brilliant and unique. We can work towards finding their natural talents and strengths. We can create learning assignments where they experience their brilliance.
Working with Organizations
When we do team coaching or group coaching, we can facilitate opportunities for minorities to get their voices heard. We can also work with members from the majority groups so that they also feel their voices were heard and their needs were acknowledged.
Coaching People Who Want to Improve
This group of clients will have enough self-awareness of the challenges they have. They will be curious about knowing the areas they need help with and identifying the ways they can improve themselves. It will be essential to identify their values and ideals as leaders so that they can guide themselves towards higher ideals.