Unity in diversity
AS MORE and more organisations go global and become increasingly diverse it has become imperative for employers to create workplaces that respect diversity and are welcoming. Most workplaces are home to people of different genders, races, beliefs, ethnic origins/communities and lifestyles. Diversity involves all the things that make us different from each other. The effects of a diverse workforce can be telling. Unless the employers understand the changes wrought by diversity they cannot begin to deal with it let alone appreciate it.
Though companies talk of embracing multiculture, in itself that is not enough. They should learn how to manage diversity so that they attract and retain the best talent.
Bringing together employees of varied perspectives and skills will not only bring creativity but boost dynamism as well. Organisations that value their employees perform better with fewer tensions when cultural clashes are managed well. A diverse workforce has to be valued, not merely tolerated. And it is in the hands of the people to respect and tolerate everyone they work with.
A workplace that lays emphasis on managing diversity is characterized by high employee morale, creative work environment free from harassment, low attrition rates and satisfied clients. Progressive organisations recognise and promote differences as an added value to the work environment. They understand how various dimensions of diversity affect performance, motivation and interpersonal relations.
Diversity management is all about providing a work environment wherein all employees feel valued and empowered.
If organisations are to thrive they need to make diversity their strength by actively fostering it. Making a mention of it in the company's newsletters can do this. It should be communicated to all employees that they are valued irrespective of their age, appearance, origins and beliefs, encompassing differences beyond sex and race.
As an employer make sure that you hire people on the basis of their qualifications and attributes rather than any other considerations (e.g. recommended by higher ups; etc.). When recruiting weed out all other factors other than skill and merit. This will lead in the fullness of time to a balanced workforce.
Don't always rely on word-of-mouth recruitment. Most people usually associate with people like themselves. By recruiting employees on others' references you are just promoting non-diversity.
The management's decisions should reflect the vision of the company. This will encourage the managers and supervisors to do so too. The company's objectives should be of prime concern to them.
Employees often feel underrated and unappreciated. What causes further disgruntlement is when training is available to only a select few. As part of management ensure that training is available on a broader scale. Post training opportunities publicly. Periodically review your performers so that you know who has benefited most from training.
Many MNCs often opt to have a diversity trainer to help employees adapt easily to a diverse environment. But be careful when having a consultant like that on your roles. These sessions have to be very carefully and sensitively handled. If not, they may open up old wounds, which may be difficult to heal. More than the trainers/consultants, an adept HR manager would know the problem areas are and suggest ways to remedy the situation.
Ultimately it is up to the management to make the right changes and project the positive image. Diversity should be respected from top down for it to be a tool of success. Diversity consciousness cannot be just mandated into the corporate culture. It has to be an attitude ingrained in the employer as well as the staff of a sense of belonging, of mutual respect, of `them' being part of `us'.
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