Organisational management theory traditionally identifies such types of workplace diversity as cultural, national, gender, experiential, cognitive, task-related and disability diversity. Companies can benefit from employing workers with different views, ideas, family backgrounds and cultures, and derive positive experience from them in order create a competitive advantage. The recent example of Google has shown that progress in hiring diverse employees may lead to a more diversified product portfolio, better knowledge exchange inside the organisation and higher innovativeness. On the other hand, workplace diversity may lead to conflicts within a company that may affect employees’ productivity and increase employee turnover.
The rapid pace of business and, as a result, an increase in competition have stimulated the necessity to hire international employees with more experience and deeper knowledge. Indeed, any multinational today is doomed to face diversity among its personnel. However, the true origin of workplace diversity may be found in the process of globalisation that has changed the entire structure of the labour market. The emergence of international corporations due to globalisation introduced an opportunity for firms to exchange their skills and knowledge in order to get higher profits with lower costs. Simultaneously, workplace diversity still remains a considerable challenge even for sophisticated and established market players. It does not matter how large your organisation or team is, check the following five effective ways to manage workforce diversity.
- Define Your Paradigm of Workplace Diversity
The research by Harvard Business Review differentiated between three main paradigms of workplace diversity that included the discrimination-and-fairness, access-and-learning and learning-and-effectiveness paradigms. According to the discrimination-and-fairness approach, practices and techniques of workplace diversity should be based on legal concerns. Nonetheless, the discrimination-and-fairness approach was criticised for the limited provision of practical tools for managers aimed to maximise employees’ talents and knowledge.
The access-and-learning paradigm views diversity as a method to access global markets by means of creating a competitive advantage as a result of proper management of diverse employees. This paradigm highlighted the importance of introducing such techniques of managing diversity as the provision of employees with equal rights and opportunities in order to access global markets. The access-and-learning paradigm is not ideal in the context of workplace diversity management, as it does not take into account possible failures of managers that may lead to discrepancy between market needs and organisational supply.
Finally, the learning-and-effectiveness paradigm is said to include some features of the discrimination-and-fairness and access-and-learning paradigms. At the same time, the importance of individual differences and their impact on organisational performance as well as on a future perspective dominate in the learning-and-effectiveness approach. It is clear from this classification that a farsighted company should seek to adopt the learning-and-effectiveness approach because it offers a better tool set for managers and takes into account unavoidable managerial mistakes. You should not only address the legal side of diversity and provide equal opportunities in the workplace, but also make diversity work for you.
- Don’t Limit Access to Information
Employees should be equally provided with all the necessary information and opportunities for them to understand the key dimensions of diversity in your organisation or team. When there is a lack of information, there is always space for stereotypes, misunderstanding and conflicts. One of the most commonly spread techniques of diversity management is mentoring, which can be practiced by managers to help employees overcome the existing stereotypes and barriers by providing a better access to information. An important point here is that mentors should demonstrate equal and respectful attitude to all employees within your organisation. Moreover, it is essential for mentors to cultivate tolerance towards diverse workers among more experienced team members and opinion leaders.
- Make Full Use of Networking
Another technique for managers to improve the organisational climate is networking. This remarkable practice is aimed at the provision of minority groups with an opportunity to build interpersonal relations with other group members. One should note that the effectiveness of networking depends on managers’ right choices of the group inclusion criteria. For example, it would be a mistake to create a homogenous group with only one or few diverse representative. Networking is especially powerful in revealing the existing problems and finding collective solutions to them. However, there is always a risk that groups developing on their own by means of networking may change their direction from being aimed at organisational values to personal values.
- Boost Your Employees’ Motivation
Employee motivation serves as a strong stimulus to develop positive relations between employees of various cultural, experiential and family backgrounds by means of satisfying their individual needs. The key reason for motivating diverse employees is to cultivate their loyalty and decrease the segregating role played by diverse employee characteristics. Many empirical studies prove that motivation leads to higher individual productivity and better work quality. On the other hand, insufficient managerial knowledge in the sphere of motivation and reward may negatively influence the effectiveness of incentives and challenge the performance of diverse workforce. Discrimination and tensions in the workplace can source from the fact that governments usually stimulate the employment and reward of national employees. If this inequality exists in your context, it can be moderated at the corporate level.
- Share Knowledge
The introduction of a workplace diversity course in educational institutions and corporate training programmes can significantly reduce negative attitudes to employees of different religions, cultures and values. You can share the knowledge on positive workplace diversity effects in your organisation in the format of a training course (offline or online) and influence the creation of a welcoming culture. A reasonable piece of advice would be to hire a diversity expert who can construct a balanced programme with learning materials.
Managing workforce diversity in your context, be focused on the idea that you do not need to fight diversity, which is a natural outcome of the evolved and globalised labour market. Alternatively, be creative to discover how the diverse characteristics of your staff can boost performance, innovativeness and overall uniqueness of your firm.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.