A common misconception is that the phrase “workplace diversity” defines meeting certain quotas in employee race or gender categories. In fact, “diversity” as it relates to people is a way of thinking and operating that encourages an entirely new and positive outlook among employees. Diversity in the work environment promotes acceptance, respect and teamwork. We all know that companies that overcome certain diversity issues generally achieve greater productivity, profit and company morale.
1. Respect In The Workplace
The key component in achieving a favourably diversified workplace is establishing teamwork and mutual respect among employees. Acceptance of individual differences is essential in creating a collaborative and productive work environment. Acceptance leads to respect, and ultimately opportunity.
When prejudice, racism, discrimination and a lack of respect creep into a work environment, conflict among employees becomes inevitable. If not distinguished, such animosity in the workplace can turn explosive or even violent. Businesses who provide a diversified work environment and provide sufficient diversity training reduce or eliminate such occurrences.
3. Lifestyle Acceptance
Though someone’s personal life should not affect their job performance, lifestyle acceptance is sometimes an issue in the workplace. Unfortunately, even though many employers now provide extended benefits to “alternative lifestyle partners,” sometimes LGBTIQA employees experience disrespect and discrimination. Such behaviour leads to an uncomfortable working atmosphere and poor productivity. Don’t allow this in your workplace.
4. Ethnic And Cultural Differences
Sadly, some individuals harbour unfair prejudices against people of different colours, cultures, ethnicity or religion than their own. Such prejudice should not be tolerated in the workplace — much less anywhere – and should be dealt with immediately they arise. Firm company policies and appropriate training helps build acceptance and respect among a well-diversified employee body.
One of the oldest and most common diversity issues in the workplace is the “men vs. women” topic. Pay parity is a good place to start in addressing this and thinking about the language used in the workplace.
Harassment can sometimes be an issue in a diversified work environment, but should never ever be tolerated. Recognising harassment is key in preventing and eliminating discrimination from the workplace. Even the slightest comment made in jest can be considered harassment even remotely vague racial, sexual or discriminatory connotations should not be tolerated. For example, “I love Asian women” or “We should have hired a man.”
Even when no prejudice exits among employees, a diversified workplace can bring about certain communication issues. Hiring immigrants who speak little or no English can reduce productivity by creating a communication barrier among team members. Employing some form of communication training and hiring sufficiently bilingual workers helps encourage and improve staff interaction.
8. Generation Gaps
In larger diversified organisations, employees are often made up of people who range in age from teenagers to older workers. Inevitably, generation gaps can become an issue and the age differences can trigger “cliques” and separation of the company as a cohesive unit. Bridging the gap between multiple generations of workers can sometimes become an issue for employers attempting to establish teamwork. But each generation can learn lots from the other if its set up properly.
Unfortunately, workers who have a mental or physical disability can sometimes encounter discriminatory behaviour from insensitive peers. In some cases, employers innocently overlook disability needs, such as ramps or special needs equipment. Creating a fair and comfortable work environment for those employees is important in a diversified workplace.
Diversity training and practices are not just a course or exam that employees take. Consistency and a daily practice of company behaviour policies is essential in moulding a positive and productive workplace.
Adapted from an article written by Michelle Renee