How to Manage Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity in the workplace can make or break the environment and culture for any organization. With the diversity that is present in the country, it is inevitable that the workplace will begin to reflect that truth. According to a recent demographic analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center, by 2055, the U.S. will no longer have a single racial or ethnic majority. This shift will impact the workforce and how diversity in the workplace must be addressed. Therefore, it is imperative that the diversity in the workplace is properly managed so that it brings about a professional, safe and comfortable environment for all employees.

Acknowledge Workplace Diversity

One of the best ways to manage diversity in the workplace is by first acknowledging it. Because it is a sensitive and, for many, an uncomfortable topic, many employers avoid addressing the topic at all or in the detail necessary. Instead, they make indirect references to diversity or just place a few clauses in the employee handbook leaving it up to each individual to read it on their own time. The only way you can make anything better is by facing it head on. By acknowledging different aspects of diversity in the workplace, such as the benefits, struggles and policies of workplace diversity, it can  build a sense of trust with any minority groups in the organization. It may cause some to be uncomfortable, but over time it creates a more comfortable and open-minded work environment.

Recognize the Benefits

It is vital to always take the optimistic approach to diversity and inclusion. Focus on the benefits of having a diverse team of employees instead of focusing on the divisive issues from it. If you don’t see how a diverse team can benefit the company, it will never become a priority for leadership. Organizations who make diversity a priority attract better employees, minimizes the risk of ethics coming into question and are simply more successful. Growth and success is more attainable when an employer encourages people to be themselves. It creates an environment for people to be more creative and use their backgrounds to enhance the company. The more diverse your company is the more diverse your desired audience will be, i.e., the more diverse the audience, the more opportunities that are created for company growth.

Treat Each Employee as an Individual

When managing diversity in the workplace, remember to treat each employee as an individual instead of stereotyping them based on their background. Never assume anything about that employee. Instead, get to know them for who they are. Even if your intentions are good, when concluding a preconceived idea about a person based on their background, you risk causing awkward and uncomfortable situations to arise.

Policies and Practices

This should go without saying, but every organization should have a documented list of policies for all employees. Make sure that those policies are in place to protect employees’ rights and stay compliant with government regulations. Be sure that each policy is clearly communicated, understood and practiced by all employees. There should be zero-tolerance of any form of harassment or discrimination and, in the event that any of it occurs, there should be serious consequences.

Alongside the company’s policies, consider sensitivity or diversity training for your staff. This will help eliminate the likelihood that someone unknowingly does or says something that is offensive.

Encourage Feedback from Employees

No matter how much effort you put into managing diversity in the workplace, there will always be something that you mistakenly overlooked, was unaware of or never considered when implementing new policies and practices. With that being said, don’t be hesitant to ask staff and employees what they think about the culture, workplace, leadership, policies and how diversity is handled overall at the job. Be open to shifting, adding or all together eliminating anything that doesn’t assist with the betterment of managing diversity in the workplace.

Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses which provide compliance screening as well as background checks. Visit www.Coastal-HR.com or give us a call at 251-478-7444. We’re here to help ensure that all your human resources needs are met.