Valuing Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity in the workforce is quite common in global organizations and diversity management has now become essential for such businesses. Having a diverse workforce includes diversity across race, religion, gender, age, culture, sexual orientation and even varying personality types. Not every organization is equipped with leaders, policies and cultural awareness programs that recognize diversities and shield minorities based on their differences. Global organizations must work towards developing values that respect and appreciate diversities and have a positive impact on groups in relation to satisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, as well as group conflict and cohesion.

The first step is to recognize that diversity exists by building the cultural awareness amongst employees. With the support of leaders and HR, who are responsible for running the organization, strategies are developed, measured and implemented to build personal identity and reduce barriers such as stereotyping.

Companies demonstrate how they will care for their employees without bias through their words and actions. They can also modify their values and norms to match the diverse employee base by developing HR policies that ensure that minorities are safeguarded in hiring procedures, career development practices, merit increases, training and development. Furthermore, an inclusive organization is one that recognizes government policies concerning equal opportunity and sexual discrimination.

There is also ongoing diversity training, which is necessary to build diversity awareness, understanding and management of inter-group conflict, understanding of different thinking styles, and employing people different to themselves.

Bear in mind that poor diversity management exposes a company to potential liabilities or even lawsuits. A CEO is not doing justice to shareholders, employees or customers if he/she is uninvolved. Workplace diversity can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. All of these differences can affect team interactions and performance.

We may share similar values, such as respect or need for recognition, but how we show those values through behavior may be different for different groups or individuals.

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