Strategies on How to Promote Diversity in the Workplace

by Apr 5, 2018Leadership and Management

Alejandra Fonseca

Modern companies in different fields promote diversity, and a lot of companies that lack a diverse workforce plan to rectify the omission. But what happens after companies have added workers from different ethnic groups? What do they do to support and harness the diversity and how can they make them stay at the company?

Management should see to it that they are fully integrated into the company culture. They should not feel alienated and they should be able to perform their jobs freely.

According to Professor Donna Maria Blancero of Bentley University, who is the coordinator of the Human Behavior and Organizations course, a corporate consultant and a champion of diversity, today’s generation believes that no differences exist among various groups although they have only been exposed to a limited number of minorities. There are still people who self-segregate, avoid people and make assumptions without knowing that they are doing it.

A colleague of Prof. Blancero, associate professor of management Marcus Stewart concurs with her. He said that although many companies today hire staff for diversity, their company culture remains the same. They still espouse and reward conformity.

In his class, Prof. Stewart tries to establish a culture that promotes diversity by placing students from different colleges, majors, countries and generation in each team to handle situations and cases. He stressed that it is difficult to work with other people when others do not understand their points of view. He further said that if the goal of the team were to finish the assigned task, they would realize that each individual, even if he or she is of different ethnicity, could contribute something worthwhile.

Strategies to promote diversity and avoid fallouts

Having a multicultural staff does not end after they are hired. They need support and guidance. Here are some ideas to prevent fallout and truly promote diversity in the workplace.

1.   Recognize differences

It is important for management and staff to recognize that people are different individuals, whether it is due to race, religion, gender, management style or personality. Management should not feel guilty about hiring people of different ethnicity. A manager who accepts the fact will be able to minimize discriminatory decision-making and behavior.

2.   Provide everyone with ”implicit bias training”

Implicit bias training supports the creation of a safe environment in the office to increase awareness of the staff about their unconscious attitudes. The training includes teaching participants to prepare tools to help them change their behaviors. It is easy for a person to say that he or she is open and accepting and does not have any bias against people of color. But judgments are settled deep inside themselves, often due to life experiences and socialization.

3.   Offer mentors

Management must link employees who are underrepresented with mentors within and out of their group to give them support and encourage their growth. It is important for them to get the right encouragement from management to participate in suitable professional groups.

4.   Allow people to grow

It’s unavoidable that there are still males that have bias against females who are in the same profession as them, for example, an engineer. But as the company manager you can offer the female officer a leadership role where her success will show that she is able or more capable than her male counterparts. It can help males accept her as an equal because she has the evidence to make them change their attitudes. The manager should also consider that the minority staff could be potentially stressed by the feeling that they need to prove themselves equal to the rest of the employees.

5.  Have policies friendly to diverse groups

If you have a diverse workforce, it is important to amend your existing policies to make them more friendly to staff. You need to consider their religious traditions. Offer flexible work hours to working moms and if possible have an on-site daycare for mothers with young children. Hiring a diverse staff is not just about compliance with the equal opportunity regulations. It is about nurturing the people you hire.

Clear communication is important. Employees should understand the new policies. Your staff should be comfortable in airing their concerns, particularly if it is about age, sexuality, ethnicity and gender. Managers should be equipped to handle such situations and must always use inclusive language so nobody is singled out or alienated.

6.  Ask yourself questions

While you encourage your employees to make a personal evaluation, you should also be asking yourself about your attitude when you are promoting, hiring or firing staff. Think about what you would do if the social identities of the individuals were different.

7.  Put value to all diversity

As a company leader you have the perspective to promote inclusiveness. You are the one who can put value to the diversity in your company. Promote diversity by allowing everybody to have a voice and a place in every company goal and project.

Establishing an open-minded office culture

Promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace is one of the best means to help grow a global and open-minded culture in the company. It is good business sense. You help your employees to understand colleagues, customers and clients better. Promoting diversity helps enrich a company’s environment. It is important for everyone in the company to commit to improving their cultural competency by improving their understanding of perspectives and cultures that are different from their own, to avoid misunderstandings and improve communication. This will help them in their professional interaction with people from different cultures.

Promote diversity in the workplace by learning about different cultural approaches to work. Learn your colleagues’ traditions and their backgrounds. They may have many things to share with you that are not existent in your own culture. You may even learn a new language through them.

It is also important to ask help when you’re dealing with a difficult problem at work. Ask your colleagues for help. You might discover that your new colleague from a different culture has a good insight about the problem that could be the solution you’re seeking.

In the same vein, staff with different cultural backgrounds should also actively participate to enhance diversity in the workplace. Sharing your perspectives, experiences and your rich culture can improve the professional experience of the other employees.

The best method to promote diversity is by espousing it and establishing understanding. Find a common ground by getting to know your co-employees on a personal level, regardless of their background and culture. This can help deepen your understanding of your differences and help build a welcoming and inclusive workplace.

Image Copyright: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo

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