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Workplace Diversity: Setting Expectations & Standards for Success


Workplace Diversity: Setting Expectations & Standards for Success

When employees are not able to be themselves at work, it is unlikely for them to engage fully in assignments or tasks.

Individuals who have a disability or a different sexual orientation, for example, might actually fear reprisals. A closed environment like this can have a serious effect on how a person will want to get involved in the organization. Also, this can lead to increased absenteeism, low staff morale, retention difficulties, and decreased productivity.

Organizational leaders have an important responsibility to set the tone for turning the workplace into a more inclusive and diverse one. Effective communication along with clear paths for feedback can give everyone more opportunities for discussion of any issues regarding discrimination and inclusion.

Here are six ideas for promoting diversity in the workplace:

  1. Encourage everyone to learn more about the cultural backgrounds of employees, as well as their interests or things they love to do when they’re not in the workplace. Inclusion can be established and fostered in the organization when relationships are built through increased trust and understanding.
  2. Give employees more opportunities to interact with one another in settings outside of work. This will allow them to feel comfortable with one another. Be creative and open-minded when looking for ways to boost employees’ interaction with one another.
  3. Make sure that all staff are given the chance and opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making for social activities.
  4. Provide employees with a place that is spacious enough for all of them to have lunch together. When they share food together, it is another way for them to learn about each other’s culture as well.
  5. Be sensitive to and aware of culturally significant days and events. Give your employees an option to observe such days or events, and consider such breaks as formal leave and not absences from work.
  6. Come up with flexible work schedules so that your employees will be able to observe religious practices by arranging their own schedules.

Using an educational approach can be very helpful as it can negate many of the fears that people typically have when it comes to dealing with diversity. Employees and managers as well are worried that they may end up saying the wrong thing, be thought of as discriminatory, and so on.

It is important for management as well as the staff to understand that while there are expectations and standards for appropriate workplace behaviour, achieving diversity is not about perfection. Everyone has to realize that inclusion and diversity can be best nurtured in a workplace that is open, and where mistakes are not forbidden, because after all, it is through our mistakes that we can learn.

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