In today’s economic market, most companies understand why it’s important to employ a diverse representation across teams. However manageable it is to recruit and hire diverse employees, diversity is not easy to maintain. Human resource managers are consistently tasked to consider diversity when it comes to employee retention.
Diversity enriches the workplace environment in such a manner that other recruiting and hiring practices can. It is the most logical way to integrate the unique benefits of having team members that represent a diverse clientele and consumer base, hiring the best of available candidates, and cultivating an attractive discrimination-free workplace. (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/07/12/11900/the-top-10-economic-facts-of-diversity-in-the-workplace/) These and specific economic gains are only achievable by maintaining a diverse place of employment where people are happy to be a part of the workforce.
It’s Just a Word
Diversity has been often touted as a sign of a healthy workplace to the point of overuse or overemphasis in theory rather than in practice. Moving from posturing to practicing it in the workplace means that employee support norms have to be established that consider basic differences such as religion, gender, culture, as well as more sensitive variances as sexual preference. The more efficient employers become in identifying the stressors specific to their diverse staff, the less intrusive an individual’s difference becomes to the workforce routine.
Training is not enough for an organization to sustain a diversity maintenance plan. Strategies must be implemented that create and secure the culture representative in every division of the company. Here are some of the challenges and solutions to supporting diversity in the workplace.
Language and culture challenges need to be conquered and diversity cannot succeed without resolving the feelings that surround these issues. Ineffective team communication consumes precious productivity timelines and compromises project management deadlines, which ultimately fosters low team morale. Facilitating trustworthy communication from leadership across diverse employees helps the team grow closer as they strive for success in their work efforts.
It’s better to invest in sensitivity training as a prevention strategy than to wait until after acts of discrimination have occurred. Teaching others how to appreciate different views, know what is or is not offensive, communicate with respect regardless of who they are speaking to, and mend rifts in employee relationships affected by discrimination will be invaluable to maintaining a diverse culture within your organization. Make sure that sensitivity training is mandatory for all existing employees and new hires regardless of their reporting level.
Seeking the most qualified candidates to fill open positions seem like a relatively straightforward way to hire employees that represent the clients and community you serve. However, interview questions can be biased and create a veneer of preference that good people who bring diversity to your place of employment or have great soft skills will detect. To convince people who regularly experience challenges in fitting into society that they will enjoy coming to work every day in your organization, recruiting managers may need to be retrained on interview techniques that will attract the top talent of the diverse candidate pool you have to choose from.
It can be difficult to find employees with diverse backgrounds and reaching out to associations who can provide you with candidate leads is a great way of circumventing this challenge. Other strategies to discovering top talent is through developing relationships with universities and community organizations geared towards aiding in the job search of the unemployed population.
In workplaces and industries such as technology where diversity is relatively new, some team members will refuse to acknowledge the vast changes taking place. Breaking through workplace traditions can be difficult to do as there could be factors such as isolation, intimidation, and oppression taking place within the organization. Compose and update the company handbook to include zero-tolerance policies as a means of resolving diversity issues.
Create and facilitate a safe environment for employees to report discrimination. Grievances should be treated with the highest level of confidentiality and team members should know exactly how to report situations involving discrimination. Managers above all others should be held at a higher accountability level for exhibiting anti-discriminatory behavior, handling discrimination complaints submitted to them by staff, and for making sure that their direct reports are abiding by policies to keep discrimination out of the workplace.
The goal should reach beyond implementing artificial policies or forcing an environment change. Conducting employee cultural competence surveys can give great insight as to how organizational rules should be adjusted to influence the status quo. Mitigate the risk of employee separation by standardizing objective practices in the workplace that can apply to everyone regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.
An effective employee handbook that contains policies to address workplace discrimination will include the diversity compliance policy, an anti-discrimination model, inform all team members of what behaviors are and are not allowed, outline the pay and benefits structure, and provide clear grounds for termination. Remember to invest in receiving updates on anti-discrimination practices as they change from time to time. Although globally speaking anti-discrimination policies are slowly evolving, you do not want to be uninformed when they do. (https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-3032433011/looking-at-age-discrimination-laws-through-a-global)
The only way to know whether diversity is a factor in fluctuating employee retention rates is to assess how important it is to your team. When diversity becomes important to everyone in your organization, team members will work with leadership to protect it. There’s nothing like having a team who agrees with leadership and thus assists with maintaining the culture preferred by all.
As anti-discrimination and diversity is valued throughout the organization, make the effort to observe the challenges mentioned above subsiding and employees embracing the new normal. Updated policies will be easier to implement, team members will begin referring family and friends to your company as a great place to work, and discrimination risks will become abnormal as well as infrequent.
There is no perfect time than the present to do everything possible to increase and maintain diversity in within the workforce you developed.