How are YOU embracing workplace diversity in your workforce?

How is YOUR business embracing workplace diversity? Photo via Ron Mader, Flickr

Great workplace cultures embrace diversity. These companies understand the advantages of a diverse workforce – one that offers a range of work, education and life experiences and perspectives. All valuable in meeting diverse customer needs in today’s fast-moving economy.  And, it’s smart business as the candidate pool available is now more diverse than ever.  That’s right, effective diversity management is a strategic advantage. Read on to learn how to embrace workplace diversity!

Benefits of Workplace Diversity

So, what are the benefits of workplace diversity?

In “Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges and Solutions,” Josh Greenberg, president of EngagedMetrics, outlines key benefits businesses experience who embrace diversity and actively manage it:

  • Better solutions. Together, workers from varied backgrounds bring a wide variety of experiences and talent to the table, which means more ideas for business strategies and solutions to customer needs.
  • Adaptability. Diverse workers have firsthand knowledge of different populations, so their combined ideas will relate to a wider range of customers.
  • Broader service range. Workplace diversity also means employees understand how to serve customers from different cultures and languages.

And,

  • Attracting and keeping talent. In our increasingly competitive environment for talent, your willingness to embrace talent of all types is both appealing to recruits and is smart business management. Don’t overlook that millenniums are now the largest segment of the workforce. They value diversity and expect to work for a company that supports, encourages and values a diverse workplace.

Effective Workplace Diversity Initiatives

In “You Say You Want a Diverse Workforce,” Slate associate editor L.V. Anderson notes that businesses must be thoughtful in developing and launching diversity policies. “Badly designed policies can make the problem worse,” she warns.

Anderson cites a paper on the topic by sociologists Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin, and Daniel Schrage, showing successful workplace diversity policies focus on engagement, transparency, and accountability.

According to these experts, effective workplace diversity plans:

  • Engage managers in diversity initiatives so they feel like part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
  • Are transparent. Through diversity task forces and training, companies clarify diversity policies and desired outcomes so there’s no guesswork in meeting expectations.
  • Foster organizational openness. All employees are encouraged to express their ideas and opinions –and leadership must demonstrate that those ideas are valued.
  • Promote diversity in leadership positions. This makes diversity efforts visible and shows that top management champions workplace diversity.
  • Feature mentoring programs matching managers with employees from underrepresented groups.
  • Include appointing a diversity manager with authority to review and participate in hiring decisions, making hiring managers accountable for fairness. This, writes Anderson, creates an incentive for managers to think more carefully about and document their decisions.

Workplace Diversity Challenges

There’s no surprise that working with a diverse workforce comes with its share of challenges.  A thoughtful management team can help mitigate anticipated issues by pulling plans in place to address common challenges. Here are two issues worthy of anticipating:

  • Communication barriers. It’s important to help management and employees understand that people communicate differently. This is impacted by personal culture and previous workplace culture! Provide training to encourage respect for differences and techniques, such as paraphrasing, to ensure workers understand each other.
  • Resistance to change. Some employees may have difficulty accepting changes at work. Leadership should be sensitive to these issues and use available tools to communicate the benefits of social and cultural change. Involving managers and employees in forming your diversity plan and policies will also help gain their trust and endorsement.

It Takes Time

Diversity plans don’t revolutionize the workplace overnight, but with managerial commitment and employees’ active participation, you can and will create a more appealing and welcoming workplace, with openness to all ideas, styles, and thought processes.

Need help getting started? Check out these resources! Organizations such as the National Diversity Council provide educational materials, tool kits, conferences, and other resources to help organizations embrace diversity.

With today’s global economy, workplace diversity will only continue to increase. Organizations that successfully manage and embrace diversity will have a competitive advantage, so why not re-examine your 2016 diversity initiatives today!

Want more information from HR experts on how to engage employees? Download our FREE guide to “The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should Be Reading” and start inspiring your workplace today!


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