Managing Diversity

4 Keys to Managing a Diverse Workplace

by Jenny Kriha

In today’s tight talent market and changing workplace demographics, it is critical to diversify your workforce in gender, age, orientation, and ethnicity. Studies have shown that diversity helps people think differently and stretches us from our standard limits, increasing inspiration and innovation; creating a more profitable business.

Recent McKinsey’s research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely.

To experience the benefits of having a diverse workforce, you have to do more than simply hire a more diverse team. You also need to create a workplace where people from any background, age, or culture feel comfortable.

Here are four keys to managing a diverse workplace

1. Invest in Diversity Training

The first thing to do is to invest in diversity training for your entire team. Without proper training, members of your team could be unintentionally creating a hostile workplace. Having your team go through training will identify issues and present you with solutions for solving them. Diversity training is not a one-time fix. It’s recommended that you periodically have ongoing training to make sure your workplace is open and welcome to everyone.

2. Understand Differences

Understanding what someone’s motivators are, and taking the time to get to know them, can go a long way. Managing a diverse workforce may require your leaders to have a different style of management for each employee. Every employee responds uniquely to particular management and motivation tactics. What inspires one of your employees, might irritate another.

In order to get the best out of each of your employees, encourage your leaders to identify the best management strategies for their team members. If that doesn’t come naturally, help them through training and one-on-one coaching.

A recent example that I learned about Understanding Differences, was from an HR leader whose employee groups present to the leadership on what they are currently involved in. I was impressed with this company-wide initiative.

3. Practice Empathy

Practicing empathy is a terrific way to manage a diverse workplace, and the secret to empathy is listening. Having empathy will allow you to see someone else’s point of view and appreciate their emotions and experiences. Your team can practice empathy by looking at something as a group and encourage everyone to share their thoughts. It could be a song, poem, or business quote.  Actively listening to each person’s thoughts will help build empathy for one another.

4. Understand Discrimination

It is critical that leaders understand compliance and legal ramifications regarding discrimination in the workplace.  There are federal and state laws requiring that companies take steps to train employees to prohibit harassment and discrimination.  Senior Leaders need to support all diversity and inclusion initiatives. By keeping an open mind to new views, everyone can feel supported.

 

 

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