Diversity in the workplace includes different elements. When people think about diversity what comes to mind is age, ethnicity, gender, cultural background, etc., but there is a lot more to having a diverse workplace than hiring people who fit into these “categories”. Diversity is not only about how people perceive themselves, but also how they perceive those around them, which in return affects their interactions. Companies need to embrace diversity because it can eventually lead to greater productivity. Having a diverse workforce will require managers and supervisors to review their management practices and come up with new approaches to manage certain people. Having diversity in the workplace has many advantages and disadvantages that are important to keep in mind.
Employees with a diverse cultural background bring unique experiences, talents, skills and points of view to the table that may benefit your organization and their overall work performance. Having diversity in the workplace can reduce lawsuits, increase creativity, branding, business image, and marketing opportunities.
Another advantage of having diversity in your company is that your employees can learn from each other and grow. When people are exposed to new ideas and cultures, they are forced to open their minds and gain a clear view of the people that surround them. Some people have unconscious barriers when it comes to interacting with people that don’t look like them, don’t share their same beliefs, don’t speak their same language, or are just culturally different than them. Bringing diversity into your organization will help break those barriers and will help their personal growth.
Language barriers can be a challenge, but it can also open doors for your business internationally. Having employees who are multilingual will help your marketing opportunities since you will be able to target and reach those who don’t speak the same language as you. If you are planning on expanding your business overseas, hiring people who speak a different language will definitely help you get there faster. Representing different nationalities in your company can improve your company’s image, and ultimately reach more people.
Earlier I mentioned that having diversity in your workforce improves productivity. When your employees feel accepted, included, and equal, they tend to be happier. It is important to encourage your employees to interact and learn from each other. The higher the team morale, the higher the productivity.
Managing a diverse workforce can be very challenging, since it involves much more than acknowledging the differences between your employees. You have to be able to recognize those differences and take advantage of them, fight against discrimination, and do your best to make those diverse employees feel accepted and included.
Communication might be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to a diverse workplace, and in order to succeed, you must be able to overcome this barrier. Be sure to communicate clearly when speaking with people who you don’t share the same language or culture with. People from different cultures may perceive things differently than you do, and may even get offended by something you say or do, even if it is unintentional. In some cultures, it is socially acceptable to be blunt and say what is on your mind. You may or may not be offended by that, but either way make sure to speak clearly and ask questions whenever needed. Encourage your employees to do the same in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
Lastly, having a diverse workplace may lead to integration issues. Small groups or “cliques” tend to form at companies, which can lead certain employees to avoid exposure during their breaks or lunches. In order to avoid this, try hosting company lunches and asking your employees to sit next to someone they’ve never talk to before. This will help your employees get to know each other and feel included.