How to Encourage Diversity at your Workplace

Businesspeople Holding Jigsaw Puzzle

It’s easy to consider diversity to be only an issue of fairness and equality in society. After all, various groups have struggled for decades to gain and entryway into the labor force. Although fairness and equality are worthy concepts to consider, workplace diversity entail more than simply ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot.

Society, and therefore the workplace, is becoming diverse at an astounding rate; by the year 2050, there will be no clear racial majority in the United States and by this time, immigrants and their children will account for as much as 80% of all growth within the domestic labor forces. Workplace diversity recognizes that the multiethnic and multicultural workplace is here and it needs to be managed properly in order to function properly.

Diversity begins at the top of an organization. In order to have successful and diverse organization that organization must learn to act and think in ways that consider diversity. Diversity in the leadership structure of an organization provides a strong visual signal while also having a direct impact on the organization’s culture. More information on creating a diverse leadership structure can be found here.

In order for diversity to truly happen in the workplace, an organization’s diversity goals must exist in alignment with its business goals What this means is that rather than simply paying lip service to the idea of workplace diversity, organizations should be looking to the implementation of diversity over the long term in tandem with expected business goals for the same period. In the same way that organizations need well defined metrics and goals by which to measure success, the success of a plan for workplace diversity also depends on having expectations and working toward them.

DiversityInc Best Practices said, “Promoting a diverse workplace is as simple as following the ‘Golden Rule’.” Just as most young children learn, the best way to treat others is the same way that you’d like to be treated. Diverse workplaces naturally extend this rule so that it encompasses people of all races, genders and backgrounds. With everyone working toward the goal of a harmonious and productive workplace the amount of friction between colleagues should diminish.

Clear policies on what is and isn’t acceptable in office interactions guide employees into respecting their colleagues of other cultures. It is important to note that individuals are not always aware that their behavior may be offensive to someone of a different background. Sometimes, these mistakes simply happen out of ignorance. Explicit standards and guidelines help to prevent innocent cultural confusion from becoming an outright conflict.

Simply having policies isn’t enough. Workers have to be trained in diversity just as they would have to be trained in any other desired workplace skill. There are a number of ways to implement this training; what is important is that all employees understand and help to carry out your organization’s diversity objectives.

Hiring policies should exist in harmony with government guidelines on equal opportunity. Age, race, gender, sexual orientation and other classifications are should not be considered as exclusionary characteristics. Instead, every candidate should be given a fair chance based upon their qualifications for the job. Organizations that are truly committed to diversity will find themselves recruiting from a broad range of communities in order to reach their goals.

Creating a diverse staff in areas with demographics that aren’t very diverse years can present a challenge. Workers who feel isolated and alienated have to struggle mightily to succeed. In order to find the right workers from various communities, look beyond the gender, ethnicity and culture of any specific candidate and reach out to organizations that serve the communities of the kinds of people you’d like to have on board. These groups can help you identify and recruit diverse candidates who offer talent that goes beyond simply being from a different background.

In order to attract diverse candidates, organizations should work to demonstrate that they understand the specific needs of employees from varied backgrounds. This can mean providing accommodations for religious and cultural holidays or simply providing onsite childcare options for parents who need it. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and this can be done relatively cheaply. For more ideas on attracting diverse candidates, read this article.

Bear in mind that diversity is more than an ideal; it is an increasingly significant reality. Organizations that are unwilling or unable to face current and future demographic realities will ultimately fail. Diversity in the workplace must be considered to be a mission-critical component of every organization.