Workplace Diversity Obstacles and How to Overcome Them
Workplace diversity, in a sweeping view, goes beyond the typical social and physical characteristics linked to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It also underscores the interactions that happen amid these differences in the workplace and the experiences gained from it. Integrated with inclusion, the work environment materializes into a place where everyone feels a sense of belongingness, is empowered to participate and do their level best, and has a renewed and strengthened sense of loyalty.
What Does a Diverse Workplace Look Like?
Diversity in the workplace offers and portrays representation. A place where there is social, physical, and cognitive heterogeneity—and where all these aspects interact that augment employee experiences. These all translate into an improved and more resilient workplace.
Issues on Workplace Diversity and Solutions
There are a number of issues that impede businesses from creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Among these are:
DEI Awareness in the Workforce
In keeping a diverse place of work, everything starts with consciousness. It's imperative for all workplaces to educate all levels of management on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This combats stereotypes, biases (even unconscious ones), and other potential sources of discrimination. More than that, it enlightens the workforce on other cultures, ethnic beliefs, and overall lived experiences.
Aside from upskilling employees, training and development programs are avenues to innovating workplace culture. Using effective educational tools can address issues like unconscious bias and other forms of discrimination on a personal level, effectively encouraging a more knowledgeable and accepting workplace. This, in turn, results in a more productive and successful place of business. A New Day, addresses DEI issues through a Choose Your Own Journey™ training format that harnesses empathy and reflection among participants.
DE&I Policy Implementation
Issues involving DEI policies could arise at any time during the formulation, implementation, and evaluation periods. Among the primary critiques of it is the social identities of the policymakers; are they representative of the people being affected by their decisions? Did they make efforts to truly understand the struggles of employees? Are these ordinances inclusive and fair?
In response to these issues, a DEI council must be elected to create policies. The council must comprise representatives of groups in the workplace. Initially, the council will discuss their issues pertaining to DE&I and this will serve as an offshoot for discourse on the guidelines in creating the policies. Knowing the issues and questions employees may have about DEI at work will set a framework for inclusive policymaking.
With a diverse workforce comes language, social, and even cognitive barriers. Potential issues that may arise due to cultural differences are personal etiquette and work ethics. Different cultures have varied notions of punctuality. Some may arrive before the call time, others exactly just in time, and others completely late.
It takes time to assimilate and understand each other and, as cliche as it may be, communication is key. Bring up issues during meetings and address concerns in a professional and non-confrontational manner. Leaders initiating these conversations should take into consideration the communication styles and personalities of the team members to decide how to best broach the subject.
Inaccessible Infrastructure and Resources
A diverse workplace requires diverse infrastructure and resources to cater to a multitude of employee requirements. For instance, you can start to implement sign language applications, Braille keyboards in the office, or other assistive technology. You can also encourage all workers to use learning materials in the office. Listening to what your employees need and implementing those shows them how much you value them and the quality of their lives.
While there are legitimate barriers to achieving diversity at work, there are also concrete solutions. Successful workplace diversification happens with proper leadership, initiatives, and communication. It is also built over time when all these factors are at play. One key consideration in maintaining a diverse workforce is keeping up with the culture at work and being sensitive to the employees' needs and desires.
Introducing A Brighter Tomorrow: A comprehensive DE&I suite consisting of 16 powerful modules to address all facets of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in a Choose Your Own Journey™ format, allowing your employees to put themselves in the shoes of others for a full 360 degree look at these important topics. The 16 modules of A Brighter Tomorrow are:
- Unconscious Bias
- Intention vs. Impact (Sexual Orientation)
- Generational Diversity (Finding Commonality)
- Empathy, Respect, and Listening
- Disability Awareness (Belonging)
- Allyship (Gender Identity)
- Bystander Intervention
- Psychological Safety
- Intercultural Competence (Listening for Leaders)
- Race & Equity
- Building Diverse Teams
- Inclusive Leadership
If you’d like to play this interactive movie yourself, and see how you can take your DE&I initiatives to the next level in your organization, access your demo here.