Diversity as a consulting arena was not something I was attracted to historically—until now. I notice that it too often seems to be only representation, which is better than nothing, or somewhat anyway. Just to have physical bodies in a room is really not creating a culture of inclusion and innovation. I attended a “diversity and inclusion” corporate event last week and I am inspired to see that some people are starting to realize that personal individual growth will need to be addressed as well as structure change to create inclusion.

Outer change cannot happen until the inner landscape of our mind is adjusted first.

Here are the traditional ways that society has addressed diversity: External social laws, excessive discussion without change, and hiring women and people of color.

This is a place to start, AND it’s now time to go deeper. We can’t force inner change. Women are smart and more than capable. People of color—men and women—are smart and capable. Where smartness and capability can be applied is not based on color or gender, in reality. To do so is just due to one’s blind spot and belief system. The challenge is to help people grow beyond their inner insecurity on the one hand, and to also help those stuck in homogeneous comfort zones to embrace change that brings opportunity to the whole of humanity.

Until there is balance within our minds and hearts, we will not have inclusion or effective innovation in the mini laboratory of change called the workplace. Change begins at our CORE as individuals and it requires Courage, Open-mindedness, Reflection, and Enthusiasm. Organizations are composed of individuals. Here are three ways to create inclusion and a more diverse workplace, both in terms of people and ideas:

Start with the culture. Be brave enough to explore values and purpose (the “why”) without blame, examining what is no longer working, and commit to change.

Recognize that “know thyself” is the key to creating better and more effective leaders and teams. Create a culture of personal growth and development using processes that promote self-awareness first, which leads to better emotional intelligence.

Realize that people are now looking for meaning, autonomy, and fulfillment beyond money and the weekly grind, if you want to attract and retain committed employees

Central to this is that lack of understanding of the role that the brain/mind and heart play in creating our experience. Competition and “survival of the fittest” were born out of fear and greed. It is only a paradigm. We need to see the world through new eyes, creating a business and life that has a soul again and that is inclusive. We can create new paradigms that allow for individual gifts and talents to be valued and cultivated. Then, perhaps, we can find the missing pieces we need to create a more whole and prosperous society. “Zero-sum gain” is a fictitious paradigm that has now become destructive.

Truly, the brain is closer to being the window to the soul; the eyes simply allow us to see light and translate it into forms that we interpret based on perception. It is how we interpret with our mind that leads to new innovation and collaborations or keep us stuck in our existing itty-bitty boxes. Diversity and inclusion can be an opportunity to create innovation and growth if we would only perceive its obvious (to me) value.

Author's Bio: 

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at http://www.ValenciaRay.com