Many employers find that having a diverse workforce enriches the workplace while providing a healthy variety of perspectives. But establishing diversity in the workplace is much more complicated than simply achieving desired hiring quotas.
Employers need to take several steps to assure that everyone is comfortable in the workplace, regardless of race, culture, age, gender, faith and sexual orientation. Here are a few ways that this can be done.
1. Make it clear that your company welcomes everyone, without bias: This should be done when advertising jobs and even more importantly, in the workplace. Diversity training might be useful, depending on the situation, but needs to be done in an engaging way that enables employees to see its clear benefits.
2. Make a point to get to know all of your employees: Remember that your employees are complete people, not just workers. Get to know them as the unique people they are. This will help to make them feel involved and appreciated—not to mention enrich you—and thereby create a stronger, more engaged workforce.
3. Offer plenty of opportunities for collaboration: Much of the time, biases and prejudices between people are simply due to lack of familiarity. Encourage projects that enable people to work together. This helps employees to get to know each other better, and appreciate each other. And often, they find that they are much more similar than they would have ever imagined.
4. Provide effective ways to address diversity problems: Employees feel much more comfortable in workplaces that have clear, impactful ways of dealing with concerns, including diversity issues.
5. Don’t expect to achieve an exemplary diverse workplace overnight: Diversity issues can be complex, and require time and patience. Be open to changing your diversity initiative as needed, and know that it alone probably won’t be sufficient to address diversity issues. A Harvard Business Review study of 829 U.S. companies discovered that some of the most effective programs that enhanced diversity in the workplace weren’t even created with diversity in mind. Improving the workplace as a whole goes a long way toward helping to promote diversity.