What is diversity in the workplace? Examples and definition
Challenges of diversity in the workplace
Companies across a range of industries are embracing a more diverse workforce; but with these benefits also come some key obstacles to overcome, as there are many challenges of managing diversity in the workplace.
Below are the most common challenges of diversity in the workplace which are important to consider.
Hiring employees from a range of cultures and backgrounds has fantastic benefits for businesses; but can occasionally result in communication or language barriers within a team.
This can sometimes lead to frustration amongst employees and productivity loss.
Whether it’s a VISA or specific cultural requirements, hiring employees from different countries can be tricky; especially if you are a relatively young company.
As well as posing a logistical challenge, it’s important to remember that these accommodations can also sometimes be an added business cost to factor into your hiring plans.
Salary inequality between men and women has been a huge topic of discussion in recent years.
Individuals that are treated unequally can become demotivated and often choose to leave, causing increases in staff turnover.
The Equal Pay Act aims to prevent gender equality issues by ensuring companies pay equally between women and men for equal work.
It is also important for employers to ensure the same equality is practised during the hiring process as well as with career progression in terms of opportunities offered and promotions.
In teams where there is a wide age range, especially if the company is recruiting graduates, there may be some generational differences or generation gaps.
This could potentially hinder discussions on certain subjects; millennials account for the majority of UK workers, which is evolving today’s corporate culture.
This is something to consider when you start your graduate recruitment plans, as individuals from other generations might struggle to adjust to any changes that occur.
To bridge the gap between generations, promote an office culture where all views are heard and sustain a collaborative environment.
Conflicts can arise in the workplace due to differences in religious, political or cultural beliefs, and unfortunately discrimination and prejudice still occurs in some corporate environments.
The workplace can be tough for employees with a physical or mental disability.
In a recent study on disability and employment 12% of employers are concerned that disabled employees will take more time off work and 19% believe that it is expensive to hire individuals with a disability due to costs involved in adapting the workplace.
With many offices not fully equipped with wheelchair access or no allowances for dogs, disabled individuals are still widely discriminated against today.
Sometimes employees can feel left out or isolated when groups of other individuals with similar backgrounds and characteristics, form ‘cliques’ or social circles.
When thinking about the disadvantages of diversity in the workplace, one of the key issues is that implementing a diversity in the workplace policy can be a lengthy process involving research, time and resources.
It can also work out quite costly, if you decide to offer training to help bridge skills gaps for example.
This can make it difficult, particularly for small businesses and startups to launch a diversity strategy.
However, there are always smaller, less costly positive changes that can be made to ensure all employees feel included and have a voice.
In most companies it is common to find certain individuals that are resistant to change.
“This is the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to do it now.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to convince these individuals that change can be a good thing which can inhibit the progress of a diversity and inclusion strategy.
How to promote diversity in the workplace?
We have established there are some workplace diversity challenges employers face, but they are not impossible for companies of any size to overcome.
Now we explore some potential solutions to these diversity challenges in the workplace:
Make the challenges of diversity an urgent topic of conversation; whether they are discussed in a weekly senior management meeting or shared amongst the whole team for feedback.
Frequently assess and evaluate your diversity processes and make improvements accordingly.
Develop a clear D&I strategy.
We recommend you seek advice and feedback from a diverse range of people in the business when it comes to your diversity and inclusion in the workplace strategy, individuals from different departments are likely to have different opinions!
When launching your diversity and inclusion strategy, it is a good idea to get input elsewhere across the business wherever possible.
You could consider starting a diversity and inclusion team internally to ensure you are meeting the standards, aims and objectives you’ve set out.
It might also be a good idea to do a regular ‘desk swap’ whereby you move individuals around, helping to prevent ‘cliques’ from being formed.
Initiating a mentoring scheme can help to increase employee satisfaction and retain top talent and is one of the least costly diversity strategies that can be implemented to ensure all employees feel included and have a voice.
Find out more about how a mentoring scheme could benefit your business.
Offer a clear, professional development structure to all employees.
Bridge the digital skills gap between generations by offering computer learning training or offer language training for employees that are non-native English speakers.
It might also be a good idea to offer diversity training to certain team members, particularly within management or the HR department, helping to ensure they show compassion to colleagues in distress.
Employing multilingual or bilingual staff can also help bridge the gap between different cultures and resolve any language barriers between English and non-English speaking employees.
Businesses have a duty to demonstrate equality in the workplace and prevent gender discrimination, particularly with regards to hiring both men and women, paying equal salary and offering the same opportunities and promotions to both men and women.
Encouraging more women to work in tech is another prime example of encouraging gender equality in all job roles.
Support physically or mentally disabled individuals by providing disabled access, allowing service dogs at work and offering other initiatives to build a diverse workplace.
Find out other ways to manage mental health in the workplace.
It is important to hold people accountable if they are not embracing workplace diversity and inclusion or if they are discriminating against employees who have different characteristics or different ethnic or religious backgrounds to their own.
Put rules in place and stick to them, if there are individuals who do not accept a diverse office environment, then prove that you will not tolerate this behaviour.
Employees may need to be regularly reminded to keep personal beliefs and opinions separate to work, to help reduce the risk of disputes in the office.
Ensure that you factor in all potential costs and time restraints during the initial planning stages of your diversity and inclusion strategy.
This will ensure that all your plans go ahead smoothly and prevent any costly, unwelcome surprises further down the line.
Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Webinar
Workplace diversity and workplace equality are common topics of conversation among employers, hiring managers and recruitment professionals.
In this webinar for employers, we discuss ways to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to succeed, and prevents individuals from being discriminated against or treated differently in both the hiring process and during their employment.
This quick webinar offers a thorough discussion with advice from diversity advocates Alex Ehmcke from Pink News, Luke Davis from Diversifying, Shana Gujral from ThinkLila and Adeva Solanke.
Diversity in the workplace is a necessity for all businesses; with benefits for both employers and employees. Join the conversation – get in touch today!
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