Creating a workplace that’s productive, safe, and engaging for employees is a crucial step towards growing a successful business – and it is important to recognise that, despite more focus on diversity issues in the workplace during the last decade, there is still a way to go in order to make many workplaces a good fit for a diverse staff.
Having a diverse team can bring a number of benefits to the business, such as making decisions faster and more accurately than non-diverse teams, leading to 11% higher growth, and it’s not just you as an employer that is concerned about diversity either; 76% of employees say they value diversity in the workplace.
It can be difficult to make a truly diverse and welcoming environment, there are factors both internal and external that need to be considered, such as the local demographic, accessibility, training opportunities, and how employment requirements are being filled.
But diversity isn’t just about having a multi-national, multi-race, or multi-faith range of employees, and some of the biggest diversity issues in the workplace include:
The gap between men and women working is gradually decreasing in some areas, and there is a considerable way to go in others – for example, only 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, but overall almost half of U.S. employees are female.
However, there are some industries which have been traditionally seen as “male” or “female” orientated, and there can be residual workplace bias, and individuals of every gender struggling to find opportunities, and feeling that their gender is being used to restrict their advancement within the industry.
It is important to hire the right people for the right jobs, but there has to be care taken that opportunities are given to a broad range of individuals, in order to find that best person, rather than sticking with a “it worked in the past, so we do it now” approach that sees only one type of employee approached.
Ethnic and Cultural Differences
Everyone is different, but there are some ethnic and cultural differences that can be perceived as very different from what is considered “the norm” (based on the demographic of the local area and workers in the company).
This can be wonderful for innovation and new directions – your employees may have different cultural standards or approaches that you may not have considered, and it could provide you with a competitive edge over your employees.
Integrating people into an environment that has one predominant ethnic or cultural practice can be tricky though, it is important to provide training, awareness, and be very firm with policies – what someone may consider to be “teasing” or “light-hearted” could be extremely offensive and bullying to the individual involved.
Having a system of open, honest communication, and the ability to ask questions in a respectful manner can help to break down divides and encourage harmonious integration.