Managing Diversity in the Workplace
The increased interaction among populations from all over the world has increased the likelihood that your business workforce will be very diverse. Technology has brought us closer together and made geographical boundaries less relevant. Diversity is integral to the success of any organization, and research points to the fact that companies with strong diversity are much more likely to stand out competitively. To get workplace diversity and inclusion right, you need to build a culture where everyone feels valued and heard.
What is Diversity?
Diversity refers to both an obvious face of human life that there are many different kinds of people. Diversity drives cultural, economic, and social vitality and innovation. In North America, the word “diversity” refers primarily with racial diversity, however, that is just one dimension of the human reality. We also differ in gender, language, manners, social roles, sexual orientation, education, skills, income, and numerous other attributes. Research shows that differences do make it harder for people to connect, work together, and empathize with each other. Navigating these differences can be tough, which is why it is such an important factor for business leaders to manage and consider.
Diversity in the workplace refers to an organization that intentionally employs a workplace compromised of individuals of varying genders, religion, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and other domains. More than ever, employers are prioritizing diversity and inclusion initiatives and investing in resources to ensure their teams are set up for success. Focusing on diversity and inclusion is not only the best thing to do for your business but is also the best thing to do for humanity.
How do Diverse Opinions and Experiences Contribute in a Leadership Team?
Think of an ideal team. Many may believe the best team is those with a shared vision, all agreeing with each other, and on the exact same page. However, this idea of a team may not have as many benefits as it initially sounds. Here’s why…
When members of your team are already aligned with the same thoughts and concepts, you run the risk of creating a stale environment that lacks creativity and innovation. In order to push boundaries and consider unnoticed angles, a wide and diverse range of idea and opinions are required, which is essential for leadership teams in any organization. In fact, research studies show that diverse groups that display a range of perspectives constantly outperform like-minded leadership teams on complex tasks. Diverse groups result in lower chances of “groupthink” which is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people that desire harmony or conformity, which result in an irrational decision-making outcome that inhibits creativity and innovation. Diverse leadership groups are more likely to value accurate analysis and critical evaluation, turning to creative and innovative strategies to problem solve.
In fact, research establishes a correlation for large financial gains to be made for companies that are prioritizing diversity in leadership, and the consequences that lagging behind financially for companies that don’t establish diversity in their leadership roles.
One of the best investments a company can make is to be intentional about increasing the diversity in leadership by recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse professionals.
How do Diverse Opinions and Experiences Contribute to the Core Employee Group?
As with leadership groups that lack diversity, employee groups that lack diversity are also more likely to fall victim of “groupthink” and lack the ability to solve complex problems through creativity and innovation. Employees with different life experiences and ways of thinking are more likely to look at problems with unique points of view and see details differently than others that have a more conventional perspective. Diverse experiences and opinions help improve the quality of ideas and produce novel connections and reveal patterns. In fact, people from diverse backgrounds might actually alter the behavior of a group’s social majority in ways that lead to improved and more accurate group thinking.
Diverse employee teams are more likely to remain objective by constantly reexamining facts. Greater scrutiny of each member’s action’s is common in a diverse group, which keeps their joint cognitive resources sharp and vigilant. By breaking up homogeneity in the workplace, employees can become more aware of their potential biases, which can blind them to key information and even lead them to make errors in the decision-making process.
Research conducted by McKinsey has shown that teams with greater diversity are 35% more likely to see financial returns. According to LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2018, 62% of employers are focusing on hiring for diversity as a means of improving company performance, and 78% are looking to diversity to help improve company culture. This is especially true for teams that involve creative problem solving, innovation, and collaboration
Activities or Initiatives in the Workplace that Help Support Diversity
Since diversity and inclusion is more important now than ever, what can your business do in 2020 to ensure a diverse labor pool?
- Learn About Unconscious Bias: Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups. Building awareness around these biases and addressing unconscious bias by reviewing, questioning, and analyzing personal biases and assumptions can help correct them. The HR department can administer Implicit Association Tests to help employees become aware of unconscious biases.
- Offer Diversity & Inclusion Training: In a diverse workplace, cultural differences are bound to exist. Providing educational training sessions for employees on how to understand cultural differences can ease conflict and tension of the unfamiliarity between groups. These workshops could cover anything from concepts of time and communication styles to self-identity and how to deal with conflict among different groups. Research has found that diversity training that is optional tends to be more effective than forcing your employees to attend training workshops.
- Celebrate Diverse Holidays & Events: An extensive and interactive diversity calendar can reap the best benefits of diversity. Building awareness of diversity and greater inclusivity can be achieved by celebrating all cultural events and by providing educational opportunities for employees to learn about these cultures. Doing so sheds light on important celebrations, traditions, and stories from history while promoting employee engagement. This is a great way to allow employees to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work, and that all backgrounds and perspectives are welcomed.
- Mentorship Programs: Mentoring is a great way to improve employee engagement, while promoting understanding and collaboration between different cultures, races, generations, and genders.
- Mix-Up Employee Teams: A diverse team of talent allows enhanced perspective, which will spur creativity and innovation in the workplace. If your team is homogeneous, invite a guest with a different gender, cultural background, or age, to weigh in on the initiative.
The Bottom Line: Diversity & Inclusion Should Be a Priority.
In 2020, managing diversity and promoting inclusion in your workplace is absolutely essential. Opening honest dialogue in the workplace, ensuring equitable hiring and promotion practices, and offering innovative activities and programs to make your employees feel welcomed on the team should be core to your company’s values. In fact, most talented employees are looking to work for employers that are active and engaged in the community, and care about all people.
Where Can My Business Get Started? Exemplar HR Consulting Can Help.
Even the most successful companies have opportunities to unlock new potential by fostering an atmosphere of inclusion. The Exemplar fractional HR team can provide organizations with new strategies for creating an effective, engaged workforce while rejuvenating stagnant cultures. The Exemplar HR consulting team has the experience to identify opportunities for growth and gives your team the tools it needs for successful transformation.
CEO, Exemplar Companies, Pbc.
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