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How important is respect in the workplace?

The International Day for Tolerance is marked every year on November 16 to create awareness about the principles of tolerance. It’s a day for respecting the cultures, beliefs and traditions of others.

Diverse team of business people showing respect for each other as they have a discussion while sitting together around a table.Diverse team of business people showing respect for each other as they have a discussion while sitting together around a table.

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Insights from Ellen Raim, Founder of People MatterWe focus more on solving than preventing People problems.

When you go to work, you often socialize with people you may not usually mix with and wouldn’t choose to be friends with outside of the workplace.

They may be a lot older or younger than you, they might be of a different nationality, religion or sexual orientation to you, or they may follow another football team.

That’s where tolerance plays a big part. It’s an important life skill that shows the capacity to accept differences in others and respect other people’s lifestyle choices and opinions.

What is the International Day for Tolerance?

Following the adoption of the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance by the UNESCO member states on November 16, 1995, the UN General Assembly proclaimed this day the International Day for Tolerance.

The International Day for Tolerance is now marked every year on November 16 to create awareness about the principles of tolerance. It’s a day for respecting the cultures, beliefs and traditions of others and for understanding the risks posed by intolerance.

The principles of International Day of Tolerance were created to address the alarming rise in acts of intolerance, as highlighted below:

“In the modern world, tolerance is more essential than ever before. It is an age marked by the globalization of the economy and by rapidly increasing mobility, communication, integration and interdependence, large-scale migrations and displacement of populations, urbanization and changing social patterns. Since every part of the world is characterized by diversity, escalating intolerance and strife potentially menaces every region. It is not confined to any country but is a global threat.”

Encourage tolerance in the workplace.

Tolerance is about being patient, understanding and accepting of anything different. Tolerance is a vital part of individuals and teams working together effectively.

And, of course, tolerance in the workplace should be demonstrated daily, not just once a year, because an organization’s ability to thrive depends significantly on people being willing and able to work as a team.

How do you encourage your employees to be tolerant of each other – no matter how different they may be?

An organization needs to lead by example by having an open-minded and fair approach and staying aware of the reasons behind the decisions it makes.

Set clear expectations for your employees and set these expectations in policies and codes of conduct so everyone knows that inappropriate behavior is not tolerated. Moreover, everyone should be held equally accountable for their actions, irrespective of their seniority.

Delivering an exceptional employee experience to your entire workforce is fundamental to the success of your organization. And that starts with your employees demonstrating tolerance for each other. But, to show tolerance, employees need to understand and accept each other’s similarities and differences.

By building the following elements into your organization’s principles, you can encourage tolerance throughout the workplace:

  • Show respect and kindness to colleagues.
  • Be inclusive – celebrate diversity.
  • Avoid stereotypes and respect individuality.
  • Choose your words carefully – be sensitive to the language you use.
  • Think twice about telling a potentially hurtful joke.
  • Focus on commonalities rather than differences.
  • Stand up for others if they’re being unfairly treated.

Educating employees on tolerance in the workplace.

Education is the most effective way of preventing intolerance in the workplace. Have open conversations and encourage employees to share and embrace their cultural differences so others can learn.

Lead with your values. Guide your team forward.

With Electives, you can design a learning program that aligns with your company values to equip your team with the knowledge and skills to make decisions that reflect those values.

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