Managing diversity in the workplace – How to successfully go about it
We know it’s important for a business to build equality and diversity and to promote an inclusive culture in the workplace. It opens up your business to new target markets and opportunities, broadens your reach, and provides insights into client demographics. It’s also good business practice and a legal requirement not to discriminate. The question is though–how do we successfully go about managing diversity in the workplace? There are 5 key ways to do this.
1. Start at the beginning – the hiring process
Implementing strategies that foster diversity in your company should start at the foundation level. Employers need to be mindful of who they hire. Your recruitment policies should encourage and embrace diversity equity, and inclusion. Put uniform and equal practices in place and try to conduct all interviews in a consistent manner. For example: Are all applicants for a position asked the same type of questions? Managers may need training in the basics of interview techniques and what can or cannot be asked. Interview questions should avoid terms such as ‘fit,’ and should rather focus on the key competencies of the ideal candidate. Focusing on finding the perfect ‘fit’ will result in you hiring for homogeneity. We recommend instead focusing on the ‘right add,’ by examining your workforce and team gaps and try to find someone to fill them. Similarly, job descriptions should be free from bias and biased language and include clear responsibilities. Having a diverse interview panel can also help ensure that the candidate selection process is free from prejudice, bias, and even unconscious perceptions that some may have towards certain groups of people. Try incorporating innovative diversity, equity and inclusion techniques into your recruitment and hiring processes – whether that be blind hiring, ‘two in the pool’ technique, or many others.
2. Create policies and strategies that promote inclusiveness
Company policies should encourage an inclusive culture rather than a divisive one.
The aim is to encourage mutual respect and a healthy curiosity for another person’s beliefs and/or culture and way of life and not to just tolerate these differences. Specifically, what should be addressed is the way that different individuals are represented internally perhaps via marketing materials and in company literature. Company policies should be reviewed in a consultative process with an intersectional diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to allow for diverse employees to engage with the policies that govern their workplace. CEC has a tried and tested first-of-its-kind intersectional diversity, equity, and inclusion methodology specifically for policies, processes, and practices.
3. Clear and effective communication
To manage a diverse workplace successfully employers need to ensure effective communication with consideration of language and/or cultural barriers. Policies, safety regulations, and procedures, as well as other pertinent information, should be imparted and designed in such a way that everyone is able to understand it clearly. An organization may need to use translation services for this or design materials with infographics and/or symbols to assist in effective communication. This should be a consultative process so that employees have the opportunity to provide feedback on communication methods. If a workplace actively wants to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, in order to ensure effective change management, consultation and communication is key to success and sustainability.
4. Encourage interaction
Create teams with a mix of different ages, ethnicities, cultures, and genders to work together on projects. Encourage them to ask for help from each other on difficult assignments and to be open to different perspectives. Approaching a project in a new way may open up a solution that one may not have necessarily thought of on their own. Encourage respect for personal and cultural boundaries and observe diverse traditions, celebrations, and holidays from other cultures.
5. Provide diversity training as well as sensitivity training
Lastly, diversity training in the workplace will help address all the unique things about employees with regard to their race, colour, ethnicity, language, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, gender, socio-economic status, age, physical and mental abilities. Training will educate staff on how to embrace these differences and value the variety of different inputs and perspectives that all workers bring into the company. Bad jokes and inappropriate comments about people’s differences need to be dealt with promptly and efficiently so that everybody knows it won’t be tolerated. Sensitivity, unconscious bias, and microaggression training is also a good idea as oftentimes people don’t know what is offensive to another person and may unwittingly offend someone from a different background, culture, or race. Train staff on effective communication skills so that they can deal peacefully with someone who has offended them and highlight the benefits of apologizing if they have offended others.
In summary– Managing diversity in your company means that workmates, clients, and/or customers from all over the world will understand each other better and your workplace will be more productive, innovative, and personally enriching for all. Therefore–it’s time to stop thinking of diversity as merely a buzzword and to rather work at developing an effective and actionable plan to diversify your company to ensure equal rights and gender equality for all.