When approaching the issue of educating your workforce about workplace diversity the main core focus should be on policy and planning, recruitment and selection, training and the development and retention of staff and to deliver upon all these as part of the formulation of your corporate identity.
Independent AssessmentThere are many companies who specialise in diversity training and it’s useful to engage their services to carry out an independent assessment which would often begin with them carrying out an employee satisfaction survey. The findings of this will then enable management to identify any obstacles and challenges to workplace diversity that may be prevalent within the organisation and to determine what policies need to be adjusted, added or eliminated in order to address all of these issues. Further down the track, you should then have the same assessment carried out to see if there have been improvements.
Implementing Training in DiversityTo achieve diversity, it must be implemented from the top down beginning with the executive and management teams incorporating it into every single function within the organisation to create a ‘culture’ which should then filter down and permeate throughout the rest of the staff.
A company policy on workplace diversity should be drawn up and made available to all the staff. The training should encourage all members of staff to come up with diversity initiatives to ward off any change resistance. You should encourage staff to proffer their views and opinions openly and give each and every one of them an equal say so that they’re all aware that you are treating all workers the same. Team leaders have an important role to play as they represent the visible evidence of what you’re aiming to achieve.
They should run workshops which incorporate the following:
- Recognition of Discrimination in the Workplace and how to prevent it
- Potential causes and consequences of Harassment and discrimination
- A thorough comprehension of the laws relating to workplace discrimination
- The benefits of promoting diversity in the workplace and what can be achieved through it
- Devising strategies aimed at preventing discrimination in employment decisions
- Understanding how employee attitudes can lead to potential discrimination
- How to challenge inappropriate behaviour
A successful diversity training programme forces people to question old beliefs and assumptions and requires each and every employee to analyse their own set of established values. The result from all the training should be to create a harmonious workplace which is all-inclusive, more humane, caring and, ultimately, more productive. It is sometimes never easy to get to this point and there may be elements of resistance, complaints and even emotional outbursts from certain people who are locked into old prejudices and misunderstandings.
Quite often it’s useful to look at previous practices which haven’t worked both within your organisation and other examples from within other organisations as that can help to eliminate strategies that are prone to failure and to identify those which respond to and reflect the values to which your particular organisation aspires. And, for companies who fail to take the issue of workplace diversity seriously, they will ultimately suffer from missed opportunities, a potential loss of revenue and missing out on employing the most skilled people, so it is something that should be taken seriously by every single company that wishes to maximise its potential.