How to Manage Diversity in the Workplace

by Caroline Banton

    Diversity exists when groups of people bring their own backgrounds and experiences to an organization or workplace. Managing diversity involves using these resources and experiences for the benefit of the organization. But knowing how to do this requires understanding your own background and how it affects your perspectives, behavior, decision-making and prejudices. A successful manager can build a culture of tolerance through education, training and conflict management strategies.

    Step 1

    Develop a recruitment strategy that stresses the need for diversification. Develop policies and guidelines for staff conduct and ensure that each staff member has a copy. Include channels and procedures for grievances and ensure confidentiality for everyone. Ensure that the rules and guidelines are fair and transparent and apply to all staff, including management.

    Step 2

    Train recruitment personnel. Provide them with the skills to analyze the current workforce and fill skills gaps. Ensure that candidates are chosen solely because they are the best fits for the jobs, and for no other reason.

    Step 3

    Model good behavior and enforce cultural sensitivity management training and appropriate conflict management training for management staff. An effective training program will first have management staff analyze their own diverse backgrounds and how they may have shaped prejudices that could affect the work place.

    Step 4

    Invest in cultural sensitivity training for all staff to facilitate better communication and promote tolerance. A good training program is one that staff consider a positive experience and one that avoids using an accusatory tone. Teams are more successful when all members appreciate the value in diverse skills, education and experience.

    Step 5

    Seek periodic feedback from staff and management in the form of a questionnaire or staff survey. Analyze and communicate the results to staff, identifying any progress made in staff satisfaction and highlight any diversity or conflict issues so that they can be addressed before they become unmanageable.

    Step 6

    Encourage open communication and teamwork across work functions. Horizontal communication is more relevant in business environments where social media networking platforms are causing hierarchical boundaries to disappear. Encourage employees to work together to solve problems and consider incentives and rewards for successful projects.

    Step 7

    Plan an annual event to break down formal barriers and improve staff morale. Retreats and informal gatherings can promote better interpersonal relationships and foster a culture of inclusiveness.

    Tips

    • Avoid stereotyping and recruiting on grounds of race, sex, age, or any other bias.
    • Ensure that all management decisions regarding salary raises, promotions and rewards are fair and transparent to maintain integrity and trust.

    About the Author

    Caroline Banton has more than 14 years of experience in the communications and publishing fields, working in global development and finance. Her articles have covered business, economics and recruitment, among other topics. Banton holds an M.B.A. in marketing management.

    Photo Credits

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