Managing diversity in the workplace can be a challenge, but not for the reasons you might think. Human resources professionals and managers must be intentional when it comes to doing this. It requires some thought about hiring and promoting practices and developing ways to build talent in all your employees.
Intentional but Not Superficial
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with managing diversity in the workplace is that it can lead to superficial attempts to facilitate diversity. Being intentional means thinking about policies and procedures that lead to a more diverse workplace. However, sometimes being intentional can result in nothing but superficial changes that don’t make any real changes in how things are done.
It’s only natural to put in place certain programs or initiatives designed to promote diversity. However, such tools tend to be temporary. If they are not executed in the best possible way, they lead only to temporary changes rather than a permanent adjustment in mindset.
In some cases, temporary programs or initiatives can lead to long-lasting changes, so they aren’t completely unhelpful. Sometimes all that’s needed for a program to make a real difference in operations is to be aware of the dangers of it causing only temporary changes.
Diversity in Hiring
It takes quite a while for new initiatives to become habits, but one way to dive right in is to start with your hiring practices. To have a diverse workforce, you must be able to attract a wide variety of employees. Before selecting anyone for a position, you must have a diverse group of candidates to choose from.
Auditing your hiring practice is the first step toward making sure that you’re diversifying your workforce as much as possible. In order to have the chance to hire a diverse group of employees, you must first interview a wide variety of candidates.
Increasing diversity in the hiring practice should start with ensuring that you have a diverse group of candidates to choose from. Hiring managers shouldn’t just look for employees that remind them of themselves. Instead, make sure you can show that you interviewed a variety of different candidates from different backgrounds. This ensures that you not only choose the best person for the job and increases your chances of hiring someone who’s unlike any of your other employees.
If you’re having trouble finding diverse candidates, you might consider contacting area colleges and universities to try to attract a broader range of people to choose from.
Work With Management to Manage Diversity in the Workplace
Human resources managers typically have diversity in mind when it comes to managing their workforce, but that’s not enough. Management throughout the company should be on the same page when it comes to diversity.
It may be a good idea to hold training sessions to help managers change the way they think. It’s only natural for managers to prefer employees who are like themselves. However, this can keep the best candidate from being chosen, simply because they are nothing like the manager.
Managing diversity in the workplace also requires that you think about your practices for internal promotion. When you start with a diverse slate of employees, the next step is ensuring that promotions go to a wide variety of different employees from different backgrounds.
If management at all levels of the company are on board with diversity, then it will show in job promotions.
Review Internal Policies
The next step is to review your internal policies. Sometimes policies can be designed in such a way that inequality is simply part of the business. For example, LGBTQ parents may be inadvertently discriminated against through family leave policies. It’s best to ensure that both men and women have the same amount of family leave available to them when a new child enters the household, either through birth or adoption.
One other area in which some businesses can improve is in opportunities for remote work. Being able to work from home can be beneficial for many different types of employees, but especially for those with disabilities. Employees with disabilities face more challenges than those without, so being able to work from home can sometimes remove some of those barriers to success.
Managing Diversity in the Workplace Requires Lots of Input
Managers must also realize that they have some blind spots as far as their employees and management practices go. In many cases, these blind spots can be related to internal policies at the company. Thus, it’s important to have input from many sources.
Oftentimes other people will be able to see a manager’s blind spot, but they won’t be able to see what others see. Such shortcomings are only natural. However, managers who are open to input from others will be able to tackle these blind spots and improve the working environment at the company.
Part of taking on your blind spots involves being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Managing diversity in the workplace requires patience and the ability for managers and employees alike to admit when they are wrong. Employees are more likely to own up to their mistakes when they see their managers admitting their mistakes.
Managers should also keep in mind that they have the power to unlock potential that exists in their employees. Employees who feel like they don’t fit in due to a lack of diversity may not reveal their full potential initially, but a wise manager will be able to detect when there is hidden potential that can be unlocked.
With a little bit of effort and a willingness to change, diversity in the workplace is possible. In some cases, the changes that must be made might seem very subtle, but they are still important. Sometimes all it will take to make it possible for minority employees to be successful is encouragement and a small adjustment in working conditions. It’s possible for any business to have a diverse workforce, no matter what industry they operate in.