Employers are prioritizing diversity initiatives and investing resources into making sure their teams are set up for success. Focusing on diversity is not only the smart thing to do for your business, but also the right thing to do for humanity. For an organisation looking to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workplace, it is important to understand what constitutes workplace diversity.
What is Diversity?
Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between individuals in an organisation. Diversity not only includes how individuals identify themselves but also how others perceive them. Diversity within a workplace encompasses race, gender, ethnic groups, age, religion, sexual orientation, mental and physical conditions, as well as other distinct differences between people.
Benefits to a diverse workplace
- Employees from diverse backgrounds instil organisations with creative new ideas and perspectives informed by their cultural experiences
- A diverse workplace will help organisations better understand target demographics and what moves them
- A diverse workplace can better align an organisation’s culture.
- Increased customer satisfaction by improving how employees interact with a more diverse clientele and public
- More innovations
- Faster problem-solving
- Increased profits
- Higher employee engagement
- Reduced employee turnover
- Better company reputation
- Improved hiring results.
Challenges to implementing Diversity in the workplace
Conflicts of communication
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Tips for managing workplace diversity
To manage a diverse workplace, organisations need to ensure that they effectively communicate with employees. Policies, procedures, safety rules and other important information should be designed to overcome language and cultural barriers by translating materials and using pictures and symbols whenever applicable.
Treat each employee as an individual
Avoid making assumptions about employees from different backgrounds. Instead, look at each employee as an individual and judge successes and failures on the individual’s merit rather than attributing actions to their background.
Encourage employees to work in diverse groups
Diverse work teams let employees get to know and value one another on an individual basis and can help break down preconceived notions and cultural misunderstandings.
Base standards on objective criteria
Set one standard of rules for all groups of employees regardless of background. Ensure that all employment actions, including discipline, follow this standardised criteria to make sure each employee is treated the same.
Recognise, and encourage employees to recognise, that one’s own experience, background, and culture are not the only with value to the organisation. Look for ways to incorporate a diverse range of perspectives and talents into efforts to achieve organisational goals.
To build a diverse workplace, it is crucial to recruit and hire talent from a variety of backgrounds. This requires leadership and others who make hiring decisions to overcome bias in interviewing and assessing talent. If organisations can break through bias and hire the most qualified people, those with the right education, credentials, experience and skill sets, a diverse workplace should be the natural result.
How can we help Employers?
- Assess the organisation holistically and draft a diversity implementation roadmap
- Facilitate diversity workshops
- Create diversity friendly policies
- Reassess employee benefits with a diverse lens
- Provide diversity training
- Establish diverse mentorships
The information shared on this article/blog/vlog should be read and understood within the current legal framework of South Africa. It is meant purely for educational discussion and does not amount to legal advice. For specific legal advice, please consult a legal practitioner prior to application.