What is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between individuals in an organisation. Diversity not only includes how individuals identify themselves, but also how others perceive them. Diversity within a workplace encompasses race, gender, ethnic groups, age, religion, personality, sexual orientation, citizenship status, as well as other distinct differences between people.
Importance of workplace diversity
- Mutual Respect Among Employees
Whether employees work in groups or teams comprised of co-workers with varied work styles or who represent different cultures or generations, a synergistic work environment should become the norm. Employees who recognise the many strengths and talents that diversity brings to the workplace, gain respect for their colleagues’ performance.
- Conflict Reduction and Resolution
Employees who acknowledge others’ differences often find similarities, particularly when there are common goals, such as production and quality. Respect for co-workers either reduces the likelihood of conflict or facilitates an easier road to conflict resolution. Workplace diversity preserves the quality of employees’ relationships with their co-workers and their supervisors.
- Business Reputation Enhancement
Diversity in the workplace is vital for employees because it manifests itself in building a great reputation for the company, leading to increased profitability and opportunities for workers.
An organization known for its ethics, fair employment practices and appreciation for diverse talent is better able to attract a wider pool of qualified applicants. Other advantages include loyalty from customers who choose to do business only with companies whose business practices are socially responsible.
- Job Promotion and Employee Development
A global marketplace opens doors for employees of different ages, physical and mental abilities, and ethnic backgrounds to build global profit centres. Employees interested in learning multinational business strategy and who are available for possible expatriate assignments may also find new career opportunities.
- Increased Exposure to Different Kinds of People
Employees learn from co-workers whose work styles vary and whose attitudes about work vary from their own. Traditional-generation workers learn new technology and processes from workers who belong to the tech-savvy millennial generation.
- Variety of Different Perspectives and Creativity
People are more likely to have a variety of different skills and experience.
Employees will have access to different perspectives which is highly beneficial when it comes to planning and executing a business strategy. When you put together people who see the same thing differently, you are most likely to get new ideas thus improving the creativity of your workforce.
- Better Decision Making thus Increased Profits
When employees with different backgrounds and perspectives come together, they come up with more solutions which leads to more informed and improved decisions making process and results.
Delayed processes impact the ways of the business and in turn affect the profits.
- Reduced Employee Turnover
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace cause all employees to feel accepted and valued. They become happier in their workplace and stay longer with the company and in turn, the company has low turnover rates.
Tips for managing diversity in the workplace:
To manage a diverse workplace, organisations need to ensure that they effectively communicate with employees. Policies, procedures, safety rules and other important information should be designed to overcome language and cultural barriers by translating materials and using pictures and symbols whenever applicable.
Treat each employee as an individual
Avoid making assumptions about employees from different backgrounds. Instead, look at each employee as an individual and judge successes and failures on the individual’s merit rather than attributing actions to their background.
Encourage employees to work in diverse groups
Diverse work teams let employees get to know and value one another on an individual basis and can help break down preconceived notions and cultural misunderstandings.
Base standards on objective criteria
Set one standard of rules for all groups of employees regardless of background. Ensure that all employment actions, including discipline, follow this standardised criteria to make sure each employee is treated the same.
Invest time in helping teams work together
Team building, whilst important, has moved on. Invest in developing your team’s self-awareness and helping them to appreciate why others in the team may be different. Globally recognised programmes such as Lumina Learning (https://luminalearning.com/), can completely transform the way your teams work together.