Workplace diversity means employing team members who are different from one another. That difference could be found in gender, race, religion, culture, sexuality, age, education, background and countless more.
Diversity has many benefits for a business. People with different life experiences come to the table with different perspectives. This means many different solutions can be proposed for the same problem thus making an effective solution more likely.
Equally, diversity means different ways of behaving and doing business. When entering a negotiation or decision making process, a diverse company will have a full range of abilities and approaches to choose from. They can decide based on the particular circumstances which approach would be the best to deploy. A diverse company is an adaptable company.
Diversity is also incredibly useful when a company seeks to engage with diverse markets. Your employees will have the understanding to know what those markets want and how to deliver it to them. You’ll have the language to talk to these markets and an insider opinion on how the market is likely to develop over time.
Workplace diversity improves the skillset and mindset of a company. But what effect does it have on employees? There are, undoubtedly, some challenges to overcome when creating a diverse workforce. Here are a few things to consider when trying to improve your company diversity:
A variety of languages, communication styles and cultural norms can hinder effective communication between employees. This can lead to misunderstandings and an inability to work effectively as part of a team, thus damaging morale and productivity.
Resistance to Diversity
We all feel more at home amongst people who are similar to ourselves. We better understand them and feel that they better understand us. As a result, companies often experience resistance to diversity, particularly if this is a new initiative within a previously homogenous workforce.
If your new or existing employees don’t feel valued and at home within their teams and within the company as a whole, they are unlikely to stick around. Retaining employees as you get a diversity drive off the ground can be difficult.
Despite these challenges, there’s no reason they can’t be overcome with a well-calculated and well-executed diversity plan. Getting the whole of your team on board is key to your plan’s success and education should always be the first port of call.
Provide diversity training for your staff. Teach them about different communication styles, different cultures and why diversity is important for your company. Talk about diversity as an opportunity rather than a limitation. Celebrate diversity within the company. Listen to concerns and try to allay them with action. And practise what you preach. Eliminate any gender, age and culture gaps in how you treat your employees. Make all of your employees feel equally valued to get the most out of them.
When diversity is done well, employees as well as the company will begin to see benefits. Team members will be able to call on colleagues with varied skills and experiences when they need support. If your business expands into more diverse markets, they may get the opportunity to travel and work overseas. And your employees will experience the benefits of working in an inclusive and transparent company, where all voices are heard and all perspectives considered.
Working to achieve diversity can be an uphill battle to begin with. Diversity is bound to have a big impact on your employees if they haven’t worked within a diverse workforce before. However, with the right approach, you can be sure of creating a positive, rather than a negative, effect on your employees.
Corinne Ledling is a businesswoman who’s very passionate about her job. She’s a Content Manager at Bizstats.co.uk and loves to share career tips and tricks and her work experience.