274: Laura Kriska—What If Co-Workers Could Learn To Embrace Their Differences Instead Of Shunning Them?

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Hear how to get diverse employees to value their differences

It was a great pleasure to interview Laura Kriska for our podcast, On the Brink. Laura is an internationally recognizedexpert in cross-cultural relations. She and I have a lot in common. As a corporate anthropologist, I too often work with organizations where the old culture and the new are in conflict, where Boomers and Millennials speak different dialects of English and have distinctly different habits, beliefs and ways of doing things. Add in the business environment around them, and today's companies have too little knowledge about how to “see, feel and think” in new ways and most importantly, how to use those differences to build better companies. Laura's wisdom is so needed right now — I know you will learn so much from her!

Watch and listen to our conversation here

Some of the topics we discussed:

  • While business leaders are all for diversity, inclusion and equity, actually doing those three things is harder than they thought.
  • Understanding why that is so difficult is challenging in its own right.
  • The biggest problem every leader faces is developing approaches to enable his/her employees to embrace differences and not allow their brains to shun them.

There is hope!

Laura’s new book, The Business of We: The Proven Three-Step Process for Closing the Gap Between Us and Them in Your Workplace, is an excellent approach to doing just that — bridging the cultural and generational gap and enabling people to better understand each other.

Her book will tell you more about:

  • How to effectively repair division without spending a dime.
  • How to recognize warning signs of Us vs. Them gaps, from derogatory comments about a specific group to unspoken divisions reflected by where people sit or hang out.
  • How to proactively create opportunities for individuals to discover existing common factors and sponsor experiences that bring together diverse employees and create unity within organizations.

About Laura Kriska

Laura is an internationally recognized expert and leading consultant on cross-cultural relations with more than 30 years' experience bridging gaps in diverse workplaces. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies on four continents, helping thousands of business leaders and professionals build trust across Us vs. Them differences based on nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, age or any factor of identity.

Born in Tokyo to missionary parents, Laura grew up with a fascination for different cultures and a strong attachment to Japan. After receiving her BA in Japanese Studies from Denison University, she began her career in Japan as the first American woman to work in Honda Motor Company’s Tokyo headquarters, as an assistant to a senior executive. This experience is the basis of her first book, The Accidental Office Lady.

A sought-out lecturer and a TEDx speaker, Laura is widely considered an authority on inclusion and cultural integration. She regularly speaks to professional and educational groups, and conducts bilingual and cross- cultural training sessions for a wide array of clients. In addition, Laura earned a brown belt in judo from the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo. You can connect with Laura on LinkedIn, Twitter or her website, We-Building.

Need to bring people together in your organization? Here's a start

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