11 Strategies For Achieving A More Diverse And Productive Work Environment
The Wisdom Man
When public companies release information on how their policies keep up with the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, it sets an impressive standard for other businesses to live up to. Citigroup, Coca-Cola, IngramMicro, Oracle and JPMorgan Chase — to name a select few — may have the funds to manage diversity better than most, but managing diversity in the workplace isn’t as capital intensive as it seems.
Workplace diversity is achievable by businesses regardless of nature, size or budget. It can revolutionize the way business is done today the same way it did since the first models were drawn in the ’60s. Managing diversity in the workplace, however, shouldn’t end with federal laws or with top management of corporations. There should be involvement in every level of leadership in a company.
Since everyone benefits in the triumph of a business, there must be a collective effort when it comes to leading in a diverse workplace. It should be made clear to every employee to take an open attitude to create and promote a diverse environment. This makes it possible to plant the beginnings of a successful business built on creativity and innovation. In my personal experience and study, the best way to achieve a productive and diverse environment is not just leadership by example but with the use of specific strategies:
1. Set small teams that will get new employees actively involved and fully integrated into the company’s culture. The introduction to a company’s culture may happen naturally, but it’s better to intentionally create open communication lines where issues can be addressed. The interactive exercises in my course “Creating Teamwork and Partnerships” drives this point home to the participants through the use of short video reenactments and short scripted role plays to reinforce given situations, such as handling needy colleagues and domineering supervisors.
2. Practice mentorship to encourage retention and focus on long-term career goals. Discuss opportunities for advancement and growth offered by the firm. Remember the initial point for any good mentoring program starts with two important questions: What is the reason you are starting the program? How does success look for the company and the participants?
3. Create learning and development programs that focus on building relationships and skills. Reward employees based on performance. According to the Human Resources Council, “Employee training is the responsibility of the organization. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee.”
4. Schedule activities outside of work that encourage communication and fun interactions. Promote healthy relationships and friendships among colleagues through social or community involvements.
5. Get employees’ participation in hiring new talents and ask for referrals. Partner with schools to introduce the company’s culture, help young people build self-esteem, and educate on the benefits of diversity. Many colleges and even high schools welcome this type interaction with the corporate sector. It shows not only business leadership but social responsibility also.
6. Provide diversity training to make employees more aware of what constitutes a diverse workplace. Demonstrate how each can contribute to help in the company’s success. If you are not convinced of training value in this area, consider the following three points as highlighted in a study by NCRVE UC Berkeley.
1. “Managers become more effective because they can provide suitable job assignments and at the same time they can evaluate employees properly.
2. ”Second, employees also gain benefits. As their motivation and morale increases, they become more satisfied with their work. They can also have access to better mentoring and coaching. In addition, they are more committed to their professional growth because performance becomes the criterion for success.
3. “Finally, the organization and its environment will improve. The workforce becomes more loyal to the organization because employees develop a sense of ownership.”
7. Make communication lines accessible across different generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, generations X, Y and Z) within a workplace. Use current technology to encourage participation and informality. An article from Harvard Business Review called “Managing People from 5 Generations” notes: “For the first time in history, five generations will soon be working side by side. But whether this multi-generational workplace feels satisfied and productive is, in large part, up to you: the leader.”
8. Develop company policies aligned with government laws on equal employment opportunity. Set a team that will focus on diversity policy implementation to ratify across-the-board changes. There are convenient online resources to familiarize you and your team on this topic. For example, one such source is “Laws Enforced by EEOC.”
9. Celebrate important events such as International Day to End Racism, Gay Pride celebrations in June, International Day of Person with Disabilities, and International Women’s Day every March. My recommendation is that you establish a calendar to follow for the relevant groups in your company. Doing this shows leadership and commitment that you value and recognize diversity.
10. Establish proper decorum on how to address transgendered or disabled employees. For clarification, the term “transgender” is commonly used to refer to people who do not identify with their birth sex or with society’s view of male and female gender roles. According to Society for Resource Management,”Transgender persons include people who are transsexual, cross-dressing, androgynous and gender-nonconforming, among others.”
11. Create an environment that is disability inclusive. The key ingredients to this are leadership and communication. Leadership must ensure company commitment to disability inclusion at all levels of your organization — including the C-suite. Communication must be unequivocal and demonstrated by expressing commitment to disability inclusion, both internally and externally, and providing training on workplace issues related to disability.
Workplace diversity is unavoidable. In spite of the challenges it may impose, managing diversity in the workplace should be everyone’s business. When working properly, diversity will provide improvements to the bottom line if supported by executive leadership and management.
Diversity can also contribute to the company’s development by allowing this collective knowledge or fresh perspectives to drive innovations of products, methods, and systems. Begin with making small attempts because no matter how minor; the impact will prove to be profound in the long run.
This article originally appeared January 20, 2017, in Forbes.
About The Author
Theodore Henderson works with business owners, entrepreneurs, and corporate professionals. He is an Amazon best-selling author, a Certified Career Coach, a Certified Leadership Coach, and a Certified Social Media Security Professional Powered by CompTIA. In addition he is the author of the business program “Launching Your Great Business Idea,” as well as the author of the following books; “The Wisdom Compass”, “9 Simple Strategies to Becoming A Strong Leader” and the Security eBook “30 Smart Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyber Criminals” aimed at owners of Smartphones, Mobile Devices, and also those who have significant online activities including Social Media, financial services, etc. He is available for keynotes, seminars, and workshops. He may be reached through www.TheodoreHenderson.com.