Today, diversity is typical in most workplaces. With new technology, businesses can connect with clients and customers from all over the world. Internally, the business landscape is recognising the benefits of diversity including wealth of knowledge, experience and different perspectives. By embracing those differences, we can spark innovation, problem solving, insight and creativity.
While diversity may be the new norm, the possible challenges of diversity must be addressed. Neglecting deep-rooted stereotypes can lead to various workplace challenges including:
- Communication issues stemming from the failure of different groups to understand one another
- Increased tension and conflicts between different groups
- The tendency for individuals from similar backgrounds to stick together, hire similar individuals and choose similar individuals to work on projects together
- Discrimination and harassment in the workplace
These challenges can often snowball, lead to a decrease in productivity and in some cases legal consequences.
Here are some ways that will help overcome diversity challenges:
Take a look at your recruiting and hiring practices
Ensure job advertisements and job descriptions are neutral and bias free to attract a wide variety of candidates. Make sure candidates are interviewed by various individuals within the organisation.
Establish mentoring opportunities
Challenge preconceived notions by providing employees with the opportunity to be mentored by individuals from different cultures, backgrounds and ages to improve communication and build relationships.
Promote team work
Encourage employees to focus on each other’s strengths and create cross-functional teams so that individuals from different backgrounds can work together. For example, its important you work on eliminating generation gaps. Employers should encourage and support employees to ensure they feel that they have a voice and seat at the table.
Make inclusion a priority
It’s important for an employer to go beyond diversity and strive to have an inclusive workplace, where all employees feel their differences are respected and valued for their different skills and ideas. An employer can support inclusion by providing accommodations to employees’ cultural requirements, like prayer times or religious holidays.
Provide Diversity Training
Diversity training can go a long way in encouraging employees to be accepting of differences and value the opinions of others. Awareness training helps foster and strengthen diversity initiatives in the workplace.
Regardless of your business type, it’s important to keep an open mind. By doing so, you can find a common ground where everyone can respect and embrace diversity.