Building a Diverse Workforce - The Benefits and Challenges

The foundation for success.

Jun 15, 2018


Diversity is a controversial topic with today's polarized political environment. A record number of national movements are rising to support feminism, immigration, gender identity, and sexual identity issues. Moreover, the business world is participating in efforts to diversify the modern workplace. Several studies assert that companies with diversity programs gain several benefits, though not without challenges.

This article defines diversity, why it's important, and how to meet potential challenges that may occur.

How Diversity is Defined

Simply put, the makeup of a diverse workplace is one inclusive of dissimilar individuals. It's not only about how employees define themselves, but how others perceive them. Some of the more common differences are race, religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age. Additionally, some that are becoming more prevalent in society's workplaces are: education, social status, income, mental and physical conditions and thought.

The Pew Research Center predicts that by 2055, "The U.S. will no longer have a single racial or ethnic majority."

Benefits of a Diverse Labor Force

The proof of the pudding is definitely in the tasting. McKinsey's 2017 "Diversity Matters" report is an evaluation of the impact of race, ethnicity and cultural, gender and racial differences." The impact shows a direct correlation between diverse work environments and company growth. Workplace inclusion can potentially:

  • Increase a company's market share by providing access to a more varied group of customers or clients
  • Provide a much broader pool of employees, enabling employers to find expert, specialized talent from around the world
  • Attract top talent
  • Improve employee satisfaction (retention)
  • Make for better decision making
  • Increase creativity, productivity, and innovation

With Difference Comes Challenges

Creating a company culture accepting of unique individuals is not an easy task. Numerous challenges accompany a diverse work environment. In fact, it takes more than just creating a "diversity program"; it involves pre-planning and ongoing oversight.  Consider the following points for creating a workforce conducive to diversity.

Personality

Various personalities and temperaments are typical in all work settings; with that, there are also challenges. The cliché “no two people are alike," in itself is a significant boon for companies. Consider a team made up of all dominant personalities -  a potential disaster, or a group with the same latent personalities - stagnation. Include multiple types of personality, and temperament into teams. Go a step further and incorporate every difference that exists. A varied selection of backgrounds coming together as a team produces a cornucopia of new and innovative ideas that lead to corporate success.

Communication is Key

Communication issues can occur because of the inability for diverse groups to understand and communicate effectively. Companies must continue to communicate clearly and accurately to employees any procedures, policies, and safety measures, in place, along with remedies to potential language barriers.

Perception:

Despite society's best efforts to extinguish stereotypes and prejudice, it will, unfortunately, always have a place in this world. Not everyone in the office will be on board with this effort, including top management and executive level staff. Leaders must act fairly and promote diversity, not differences, seeking ways to encourage staff buy-ins.

Employee training

Prepare and communicate a strict set of guidelines, and a zero-tolerance policy for all staff to understand. Each person is an individual, but diversifying staff, adds a whole new layer of differences to the mix. The lead comes from the top and flows down; training must be an ongoing process for both management and lower level employees.

Buy in cheat sheet

Involve employees: Diversity is a sensitive topic for which there are many opinions. Making a wrong decision can seriously impact lives. A tried and true way to gain buy-in is to involve staff in company initiatives, however, do not assume that everyone is willing to be part of those efforts. Your employees need to know that they are free agents and have the right to choose. Efforts should be inclusive of all staff.

Meet with your team to discuss the new company goals and show that their opinion counts, even if they' re not on board; listen intently and give them the right to voice their opinion without negative feedback.

Offer underrepresented groups an option to receive regular inclusion program updates.

Know the Law

Knowing the ever-changing Federal and State laws governing workplace diversity is mandatory. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has rules and regulations regarding inclusion in the workplace. Additionally, some laws may differ by State.

In summary, it's time for companies to incorporate inclusion initiatives into the workspace for several reasons. Research proves that by doing so, businesses experience measurable growth. Opportunities will open to gain a more diverse customer base and market share, get access to a larger pool of top talent, and provide a breeding ground for new ideas and creativity.

Building a congenial diverse workforce begins with the hiring process. Lofton Staffing and its various branches provides companies with the necessary resources. We bring the responsive service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Contact us today and build a winning, diverse team.

 

 

 


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