The future success of any organization is going to depend upon their ability to attract and retain a diverse group of talented individuals to drive future innovations and growth forward through fresh ideas, perspectives, and views. This requires companies to have a mixture of talents of diverse backgrounds, genders, ages, and lifestyles. As the diversity grows, managers must also put in place policies and practices to build an inclusive and harmonious workplace.
In a professional context, what is diversity?
Diversity in a workplace is achieved by creating a melting pot of team members from a variety of different backgrounds. When thinking of diversity, many of us tend to think of gender, age, and race as the primary measurements. True diversity is achieved by a mix of ethnicity, age, gender, physical abilities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, marital status, religious beliefs, and work experience.
Why is it important to manage diversity in the workplace?
Well managed, diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams, as they tend to be more creative and effective at problem solving. This comes as no surprise, as having an wider arsenal of perspectives and strengths is bound to yield more innovative solutions. Similarly, organizations that create inclusive workplaces attract and retain the best talent in the market. Think about it - the best of the best may not be right around the corner. The best people for your team may come from farther reaches. You just have to look for them and give them plenty of reasons to come to you. Finally, employees that feel included, valued, and rewarded are more engaged and motivated.
How do you manage an inclusive and diverse environment?
Recruiting - Hire candidates which fit the organization's values on inclusivity. Convey to your hiring managers that finding people that align with your company’s DEI views is foundational to their long-term success within the organization.
Onboarding - Onboarding employees should hear about the company’s DEI initiatives. These values and behaviors are expected of them, so we should make this part of the onboarding process to reinforce.
Learning and Development - Equip employees with tools and continued education around the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Continuously reinforcing the significance of mutual respect and open-mindedness is the best way to maintain a harmonious work environment.
What are the challenges and roadblocks to creating a diverse workforce?
Introducing different types of people into your workplace is without a doubt the way to go. However, this endeavor entails some considerations that you need to be prepared to handle. Among these considerations is the possibility of biases and prejudices arising from within your team. Hopefully, your hiring managers will be able to screen anyone with these prejudices out of the running so that this will not become an issue in the first place. If someone slips through the cracks, you must take a firm stance that no forms of prejudice towards others will be tolerated. If not, your team will know that they can’t trust you to back them up when they really need you. Something else to think about is the possibility of communication barriers. Differences in language should not necessarily be the reason you turn a talented candidate away, so how can you accommodate them at work? The obvious but fairly impractical answer would involve one party learning a new language in order to facilitate communication. Seeing as how that may not be feasible, use plain, uncomplicated language. If a foreign employee has been in the United States for a while, odds are that they have some understanding of the English language. In this case, remember that keeping communication simple may be the most effective tactic. That being said, translate any documents into your employee’s primary language. This optimizes the deliverance of more complex information and instructions. Also, keep communication with non-English speaking team members more demonstration-based. Visuals are a great way to eliminate confusion through language barriers.
Don’t limit your organization’s potential by restricting the types of people within your walls. Here at GoCo, we make it a point to emphasize and celebrate the diversity within our team. We can personally vouch for the benefits of a more diverse team, both through our results for our clients and our day-to-day operations as well. Make it a point to diversify your team and make sure that you have the internal infrastructure to support your people once they have joined you. The plusses of doing so will inevitably follow!