The world is a colorfully diverse place and so are our workplaces. Diversity is an economic and legal priority in business. It increases the bottom line, jump starts innovation and keeps businesses out of legal jeopardy. Managers, supervisors and employees at every level of a company need to find ways to embrace and respect diversity in their departments and the organization as a whole. Here are ten ways to get started.
- We all have biases. It's a natural result of our life experiences. Take a moment to write down what you biases are and how you can not allow these biases to affect the way you conduct yourself at work.
- Get to know someone different than you. Take a genuine interest in someone with a different background than your own. Make sure that your conversations find common ground in an area that it does not offend cultural sensibilities.
- Invite input from others with different backgrounds. Not only does this show respect, but it makes good business sense to have a diverse opinion.
- Bring together diverse groups for innovation. Inviting as many backgrounds and cultures as possible will increase the pace and creativity involved with innovation. Companies that do not change and innovate will die and the diversity can be a company's most valuable resource in this area.
- Respect religious holidays. Most companies respect Christian holidays, however the workplace is far more than just Christian. All important religious holidays should be respected for employees of that particular religion.
- Find someone with a different background who shares the same company goal with you and strategize with them.
- Find out about everyone in your departments skills, knowledge and experience. This will help you respect what they bring to the workplace.
- Invite someone with a diverse background to lunch or change your table every day at lunch in the break room so you can sit with new people.
- Avoid language that demeans a particular group of individuals. For instance avoid calling women girls and avoid jokes that have religious or cultural inferences.
- When hiring or promoting individuals do so on the basis of facts only. Skills, abilities, knowledge and results should be the only factors involved in your decisions. Do not let biases or stereotypes affect the process.
Embrace diversity in your workplace and you are on the way to a more fulfilling and productive organization. The world is a beautiful mosaic of differences and the workplace should be as well. Respecting your co-workers and employees is paramount to tapping the valuable diversity in your organization.