Managing diversity in the workplace

Diversity is talked about often. A sad reality however, is that some workplaces don’t do the best job of respecting employees from all walks of life.

Now, keep in mind we aren’t trying to start a political discussion. After all, diversity isn’t just a political issue; it means bringing people together from all types of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, generations, ideas, and age groups to work as a cohesive unit.

In fact, some companies have even started to hire Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), which about a decade ago was a position that probably didn’t exist. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 60% of Fortune 500 companies have an executive dedicated to diversity. Among those executives, 65% are female and 37% are African-American. They come from a variety of backgrounds, from human resources and marketing, to finance and operations. Some of their responsibilities include relying on employee engagement to help promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

As a manager, it’s your job to make sure your team works well together in order to produce the best results that you can for the company. Those who don’t believe that diversity management is a key leadership success skill might be left behind. The economy continues to change and many businesses are using diversity as a strategic advantage. Some say that companies with a diverse workforce can foster innovation, reduce turnover, and generate new business.

Your success as a manager will depend heavily on your ability to work with a variety of people from diverse cultural backgrounds as well as different values and ways of thinking. Make it a point to show respect and be fair with all varieties of people. If you don’t see the importance of diversity, you could be missing valuable opportunities to understand different cultures or opinions. Learn from diversity and broaden your own mind and skill set.

When you do value diversity, you probably appreciate people from different backgrounds and those with different opinions than your own. You are likely to be perceived as a person who treats all people fairly and with respect.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

The first step is to learn to view differences as assets rather than sources of confusion or misunderstanding. Differences can offer new insight in order to accomplish organizational goals.

  • Get to know your team members. Ask them about their backgrounds, experiences, education, and so on.

 

  • Educate yourself about your own cultural values, assumptions, and background.

 

 

  • Look at issues and opportunities from other people’s viewpoints before making a decision.

 

 

  • Slow down or use relaxed vocabulary when communicating with non-native speakers so they can follow along and offer their own thoughts.

 

 

  • Speak out when others opinions are not valued or their ideas or views are not taken into account.

 

 

  • Avoid the tendency to joke about differences in ways that may be considered hurtful or inappropriate.

 

 

  • Monitor yourself to detect any incorrect, inappropriate assumptions you unconsciously make about or stereotypical ways you respond to other people.

 

Remember to always consider the voices of all your employees. One of the greatest benefits to you and your team is the opportunity to learn from one another.

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