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The Power of Humor: The (Humorous) "Eye" in DEI


Team members laughing at meeting.
Why are these people smiling? Was this on the agenda?

In the pursuit of creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces, organizations have implemented numerous strategies and initiatives. An often overlooked tool that can significantly enhance the journey toward inclusivity is humor. The power of humor in DEI is that it can serve as the "eye" that helps bridge gaps, promote empathy, and foster a sense of belonging within a diverse workforce, positively impacting workplace culture.

Eye on Building Bridges

Humor acts as a universal language that transcends differences in age, gender, race, and background. There is simply a no easier and more organic way to momentarily set aside our individual identities and connect on a human level than when we laugh together. By using humor appropriately and sensitively, it becomes a powerful tool to break down barriers and build bridges between people who may otherwise find themselves searching for the opposite corner of the room.

When teams encourage the use of humor, they create an atmosphere where employees share their unique perspectives and experiences - and is that not the foundation of any diversity and equity that will stick? Humor allows employees to express themselves authentically, fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding. That's what inclusion is really all about.

Eye on Psychological Safety Humor has a profound impact on psychological safety, a crucial element for a thriving and inclusive workplace. When individuals feel safe to express themselves without fear of judgment or retribution, they are more likely to contribute their ideas, challenge the status quo, and collaborate effectively.

Workplace levity (or "anyplace" levity, really) eases tension, reduces stress, and creates a more relaxed atmosphere. This positive emotional state allows employees to engage more openly, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and productivity. Furthermore, humor promotes a sense of belonging that unique and diverse perspectives are valued and appreciated.


Eye on Culture

As many fans of stand-up comedy can attest, well-crafted and delivered comedy and satire have the ability to highlight the absurdity of discriminatory beliefs, prompting individuals to question and reevaluate their own biases. Similarly, humor can be a powerful tool to challenge stereotypes and biases that exist within organizations and respectfully foster critical thinking and an inclusive mindset.

Important note, however - it is essential to approach humor, as with anything, with respect, sensitivity, and cultural awareness. Remember - humor is the "eye" to call out what is exclusive and focus on the "i" in DEI - helping to challenge and rid of harmful stereotypes that may affect marginalized groups and be damaging and counterproductive. Organizations must ensure that humor is used thoughtfully, promoting inclusivity rather than reinforcing harmful biases. Humor, like nuclear energy, AI, and Netflix, can be used for good or for bad. Proceed wisely!


Eye on Collaboration

A workplace that is truly collaborative must be inclusive of both employee backgrounds and perspectives. This is how any team, organization, or group truly thrives. Humor plays a vital role in bringing people together, creating a sense of camaraderie and unity. When teams share laughter, it builds rapport, strengthens relationships, and enhances trust among colleagues. It doesn't happen on its own, though - you need the foundation of psychological safety to introduce, embed and sustain a spirit of levity, acceptance, and creativity in your team.

Eye on Innovation

Humor is the catalyst in your laboratory to spark creativity and innovation. Playfulness and light-heartedness, through not just culture, but actually employing humor and improvisation-based techniques, encourage individuals to think outside the box, take risks, and explore new ideas. By incorporating humor into workplace interactions, organizations can unlock the full potential of their diverse talent pool and drive innovation.


The VITAL5 ROUNDUP– The Humorous "Eye" in DEI

  1. The Bridge of Inclusion - find a barrier and sharpen your humor tool to knock it down and replace it with a bridge - a funny one at that.

  2. Get Psyched - safely, that is. A team that laughs together feels safer together and that leads to all sorts of amazing and remarkable results.

  3. Start a culture club - when used skillfully, humor can dramatically change the culture of an organization, dissolving bias, and stereotypes and celebrating how differences actually are a unifier.

  4. From "fit in" to "belong" - humor connects the D & E together so employees really feel included. -as if they belong where they are rather than just fitting into an initiative.

  5. Your humor reagent - start a positive reaction immediately and use humor as a catalyst to build vitality in your team and unlock untapped creativity and innovation.

VitalConex is a connect-and-create company. To learn more about the "peanut butter cup" of successful teams, check us out at www.vitalconex.com

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