Diversity defines America. From the census into the rest area, it does not just boil down to the color of your skin; diversity includes age, race, culture, gender, sexuality and values. Workplace diversity isn’t only inevitable, but it’s advantageous. With a variety of backgrounds and perspectives comes a larger pool for problem solving, imagination, and invention, and a truly diversity-conscious company will welcome the selection.
Improving diversity consciousness at work is critical to your successful work environment, and it simply means that workers are not only aware of diversity, but they’re also embracing it. Hiring policies and diversity plans may already encourage diversity in your group, but you can set examples to make sure it thrives.
Transparency and openness are crucial to diversity consciousness. To gain awareness of different cultural groups, employees should know where their peers come from. This allows them to relate and better understand each other. If an employee or peer celebrates a holiday you’ve never heard of, ask her about it. If an older worker grumbles about how things used to be, don’t dismiss him; ask him instead how he thinks an old idea could benefit a modern workplace. Be inquisitive, and accept questions about yourself without getting defensive or argumentative. Increased transparency leads to increased awareness and empathy.
2. Nip the pack mentality at the bud
People naturally associate with others in similar cultural groups, which inhibits them from becoming conscious of the diverse views surrounding them. Mix up your floor plan so that people from diverse backgrounds share the same space. For group projects, assign people from varied backgrounds to work together; they’ll gain more cultural understanding, and the project will benefit from a variety of distinct perspectives.
3. Encourage each individual to express his or her ideas.
When you’re conducting group meetings, make sure you sample opinions across the board rather than targeting one cultural group more than others. Specifically, ask your employees for new ideas, many of which will come from individual experiences, sparking group discussion about personal backgrounds. Encourage this discussion to foster understanding among your team which will, in turn, foster productivity.
Although acceptance of others is critical, it’s alright to maintain your own cultural identity. Let your co-workers know where you come from and what aspects of your culture and background inform your personal perspective. Lead by example to encourage others to be more open about their unique backgrounds.
5. Take discrimination seriously.
Don’t accept racist, sexist, ageist or other remarks or acts as unavoidable water cooler fodder. If your workplace facilitates discrimination — even in a small capacity — it will create a breeding ground for larger issues. Take action immediately as employees who regularly get away with discrimination can do a great deal of damage in a short period of time. Once your workplace has fully embraced diversity consciousness, your workplace and everyone in it will benefit exponentially.
here is strategies to promoting diversity:
- Commit to boosting your own cultural competency
Cross-cultural communication is an invaluable workplace skill. Today, more than ever, you’re likely to interact professionally with people from different cultural background to your own. Whether they’re a team member, your manager, or a customer, developing a better understanding of different cultures and perspectives can help to improve communication and avoid misunderstandings.
Make a point of educating yourself—learn about different cultural traditions and approaches to work, and keep up to date with global events and international politics. Take the time to get to know your colleagues from different countries and backgrounds. Be open to travel opportunities, especially if you have the chance to visit an office or team overseas. Not only will you gain a greater sense of cultural appreciation and sensitivity, you’re likely to make new friends by finding much common ground.
- Actively seek out new perspectives and ideas
Tackling a tough problem on the job? Ask for help and be open to new perspectives. People from different cultures and background may take a different approach to business issues. You’ll find that your colleagues can offer valuable insight gained through a wealth of diverse life experiences. Looking at something in a new way may reveal a solution you would never have considered on your own.
Creating a workplace where different perspectives are valued and embraced can go a long way to foster productive business relationships. Whether you’re in a junior role, a manager, or director, actively seeking advice, ideas, and expertise from your colleagues will improve communication and foster a more inclusive company culture. This inclusive culture will, in turn, help your company to retain diverse talent and make your workplace an attractive option for globally minded job seekers.
- Treat others how they want to be treated
Remember that the so-called Golden Rule to “treat others how you want to be treated” doesn’t always apply in a diverse professional environment. Instead, it is better to follow what has become known as the Platinum Rule: treat others how they want to be treated.
Always be considerate and sensitive to the boundaries and expectations of others. A request or activity you may be comfortable with could be in conflict with the values of someone else in your company. Even commonplace interactions could have subtle cultural nuances to take into account. For instance, understanding how different cultures perceive a handshake, maintaining eye contact, or the boundaries of personal space can help to avert misunderstandings.
When in doubt, ask. If you accidentally cause offense, apologize. Both scenarios are valuable opportunities to improve your own cultural awareness, and your colleagues will appreciate your sensitivity and effort. Being respectful of personal and cultural boundaries, and encouraging your colleagues to do the same through your example, will make your workplace more welcoming and productive for everyone.
- Observe diverse traditions, celebrations, and holidays from other cultures
Diversity and inclusion activities can take many forms, but one of the easiest and most fun can be creating a culturally diverse holiday calendar. Encourage your colleagues to get involved and find appropriate ways celebrate different traditions.
From Eid to Oktoberfest, sharing food, music, and celebrations from around the world can be wonderful for team-building and a great way for colleagues at different levels of the organization to connect. However, when larger organized celebrations aren’t practical, make a point to personally acknowledge a significant religious or cultural holiday. Well-wishes via email or over a coffee can be a small gesture that means a lot to a colleague, especially if they are far from home.
Beyond major holidays, sensitivity to your colleagues’ regular cultural or religious practices is also important. For example, avoid scheduling client lunches during a time of fasting or holding meetings during a time of prayer.
- Contribute to the cultural diversity of your own workplace
Remember, diversity can take many forms. Don’t underestimate the cultural value you can add to your workplace. Whatever your background, your unique perspective, culture, and experiences can enrich the professional experience of those around you.
Set an example for others to follow by positively contributing to your company culture. Something as small as sharing a traditional treat from home can be a wonderful way to spark a conversation and inspire others to share too.
- weLEAD Online Magazine: The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace – Part 1
- BBC News: Encouraging Diversity at Work
- California State University Dominguez Hills: Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
- BLR: Simple Steps to Support Workplace Diversity
- Bill Say: Article: Diversity Consciousness and the Process of Wholeness
- ACT Government: Respect, Equity and Diversity Framework
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools
- Center for American Progress: The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace