The term ‘workplace diversity’ refers to differences between people who work for a particular company. This can be comprised of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, education, background and much more besides. It deals with how people perceive themselves and others, how each and every one of them can fulfil their potential and how every person working in the same organisation can work together to towards a common goal.
Why Adopt a Diversity Strategy?Many companies have woken up to the fact that customers come from all kinds of different backgrounds and how it’s important that a workplace reflects that too. By having a diverse work force, it’s becomes easier to gain a better understanding of the different types of people in society in general. This is invaluable when devising and implementing marketing strategies for your products and services as it can help you understand the different needs of people, which can be useful in the design phase of a product and can make your sales and marketing strategies more tightly focused to cater for different sectors of the community.
Companies have also realised that in broadening their recruitment process to positively encourage people of all backgrounds to apply for jobs, they increase their chances of getting the right person for the job and don’t miss out on skills and talent, which they might otherwise have done if they’d adopted a more narrow-minded approach to recruitment.
Businesses also realise that a diverse workforce presents a much deeper ‘pool’ of experience and ideas, which they can tap into. And, in the global economy we all work in these days, having a diverse workforce is very beneficial especially when you’re trying to foster business relations with people from overseas.
Perhaps most importantly, companies know of the increased awareness of employee rights with regard to legislation relating to discrimination and equality and, therefore, they must ensure that their workplace adopts an equal opportunity policy for all their workers.
The ChallengesWhilst the benefits of workplace diversity appear unquestionable, it still presents a number of challenges, which need to be overcome. Communication holds the key here and it’s important to break down any barriers some people may have because of cultural and language differences and other stereotyping that might be inherent amongst some workers. For companies to thrive, they must be open to evolution and change and, for many people, it’s difficult to accept change in the workplace.
No doubt you’ll have heard people saying, “We’ve always done it this way and it’s always worked before so why change it?” Therefore, it’s important to overcome these obstacles and to educate the workforce that by remaining stagnant, it only prevents the implementation of new ideas and inhibits future progress.
For workplace diversity to succeed, there must be training for all staff and businesses must adopt a policy that permeates throughout the whole of the company, starting in the boardroom and running right the way down to the shop floor.