Productivity through Inclusion

Guest post by Tommi Paris, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Southern Company Gas, Atlanta, Georgia


As a diversity and inclusion (D&I) practitioner, I look for ways to connect people with the value of D&I that are applicable to everyday life – work life and real life. (Ha!)


Leveraging D&I can make you a better leader, follower, and influencer. Importantly, it can help you and your teams produce and achieve more together.


If this concept is new to you, and if you’re intrigued about its relevance to the topic of productivity, I invite you to journey with me for a moment.


In its simplest form, diversity reflects the characteristics that make us uniquely who we are: our backgrounds, experiences, work styles, ethnicity, race, gender, and orientation. Some aspects of our individual differences change with time, like work experience, parental status, and education attainment. Other aspects tend to remain the same over the course of life – our race, gender, personality, and orientation.


Individual differences affect those around us because we experience the world through our diversity, through the lenses of who we are, how we work and how we make sense of the world. Integral to our experiences are interactions with others.


I bet you’re still wondering about that connection between D&I and productivity. Don’t fret – I’m about to paint a picture for you, Bob Ross style.


Before I break out the brushes, I want to give you the glue that holds these two thoughts together.


Inclusion binds diversity and productivity. Inclusion reflects behaviors that tell others around us they matter and they are accepted for who they are and the value they bring to the business. Inclusion requires intentionality and a genuine understanding of ourselves. It requires us to be sophisticated about people around us. Most important, inclusion requires an understanding of and commitment to how to get the best from ourselves and others.


One way to be our best is to understand what it takes for each of us to be more productive. At the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do – to maximize our time and talents to produce for our company, our clients, and our teams. The more productive we are, the higher the chances of success, right?


So here’s how we can take D&I principles to increase our productivity:


Be curious.

Are you curious about the dynamics of human behavior?


Are you curious about what it takes to assist your teammates in working smarter?


Ever wonder how much more effective your team would be if you all were open to enhancing one aspect of how you manage your email account(s)?


Does the way you manage your task list support those around you? Have you ever asked?


Periodically check in with those around and ask these questions:

  • What do I do that helps you?
  • What do I do that hinders you?
  • What can I consider doing differently moving forward?


These questions signal to your teammates that they matter.


Be understanding.

We’re bound to find ourselves dealing with coworkers who are time thieves.


Sarah, the serial interrupter.


<knock, knock>


Boss, you got a minute?


Gary, the guy who fills the cc: email field like it’s going out of style, resulting in inboxes full of non-essential messages.


Frank, the millennial who checks every social media notification he gets throughout the workday, which averages to about 10 for 10 (10 notifications every 10 minutes).


Resist the urge to lash out or marginalize these poor souls. They don’t know any better. Just like you didn’t before you found the light.


Judge not.

Let’s face it, we all judge. Humans naturally tend to look for the worst in people (and situations) to confirm what we think we know or believe to be true.


Unproductive behaviors can be frustrating to deal with. When someone behaves in a way that confirms a negative stereotype we may believe, it can be difficult to separate the unproductive behavior from the value of the person.


In times like these, take a pause before the brewing feeling of frustration is converted into an action or verbal exchange you’ll regret later. Refocus your attention on the behavior, not the person.


If you’re able to directly influence someone’s behavior, do so constructively. If not, be the change you wish to see at work. Model more productive behaviors that clearly articulate that there’s a better, more productive way of being.



The link between D&I and productivity is clear and available for us to tap into. Here’s some good news – you don’t have to be a diversity and inclusion professional to do so. All you need is willingness to be more inclusive.


So, are you up for the challenge?


headshot_tommiparisAbout the Author

Tommi Paris is a millennial in corporate America who enjoys connecting people’s hearts and minds to the mission of the business through employee engagement and the value of diversity and inclusion.  You may connect with Tommi via LinkedIn.



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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


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