A diverse workforce is both a challenge and an opportunity. Human resources professionals are studying the effects of diversity in the workplace and addressing some of its challenges; diversity management is the practice of successfully managing a diverse workforce.
A diverse, inclusive workplace is one with increased engagement and retention, especially of the younger workforce. The diverse workforce is creative and innovative, with increased adaptability and a wider global service range. This workforce is able to respectfully meet the challenges of different cultures. Diversity provides a competitive advantage in many markets.
The challenge diversity and inclusion brings to the workplace is not a huge problem, but it is complex, since it deals with people and their belief systems. Depending on the size of your organization, a specific diversity and inclusion plan can be developed by professionals. Or a senior leader or human resource manager can plan assessment and intervention. Either way, a successfully diverse workplace is top driven, and is intentional.
Is senior leadership diverse? Are meetings where the consensus of opinion is arrived at quickly and without challenge termed successful? Groupthink makes for a peaceful workplace, but not necessarily one that is growing or innovative. The subtle and powerful pressure to conform can silence ideas. Senior leadership can encourage or deflect creative problem solving and brainstorming, but ideas that spring from a broad range of experiences, traditions, and beliefs can change everything. Best work comes from a workforce who feel safe, valued, respected, and challenged to succeed.
If the company’s values and beliefs include a diverse, inclusive workplace, then policies should reflect those values. A specific diversity and inclusion plan should include assessment of perceptions, experiences, and beliefs of all staff members regarding this issue, with steps in place to protect privacy; once information is gathered, specific challenges can be addressed.
A staff member who has, through tradition or culture, not been given a seat at the table wants a seat at the table. This staff member wants ideas heard, wants opportunity and equity, transparency and communication from leaders, and to be treated with respect and courtesy. These goals for one diverse staff member might be a template to work toward for all staff.
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