My Team is made up of very Diverse People - How can I Get them to Work Together Well?
Assess your Openness to Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunities
What is Diversity?
Workplace diversity is about creating an inclusive environment in which people's diverse skills, cultural perspectives, and backgrounds are valued.
Diversity refers to the range of visible and non-visible differences that exist between people in terms of country of origin, age, gender, race,
cultural heritage, sexual orientation, education, physical ability, first language and other factors. Our perspectives are shaped and formed by these characteristics.
As a result, our approach to issues in the workplace can differ. Recognising differences ensures that we understand that one approach may
not be appropriate for all. Appreciating diversity means being sensitive to the backgrounds of individuals and establishing a welcoming work
environment for all. Valuing diversity involves treating individuals and groups, however they differ with respect and fairness, and harnessing
these differences to the benefit of your business.
Employment equity is a critical component of workplace diversity. It describes a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment, and ensures that employment decisions are based on merit and that people are able to contribute to their full potential.
Team members need to both value diversity and manage it accordingly. Valuing diversity means viewing differences as assets rather than liabilities, and combating stereotypes and unfair prejudices before they become obstacles to team effectiveness. Managing diversity means using the differences in team members to reach goals, improving decision-making by taking into account different viewpoints, and challenging assumptions that undercut the team's potential.
What are the Benefits of Diversity?
Through valuing diversity, teams, your business and individuals can achieve better outcomes:
Connecting with the Customer
Better and more responsive services - A diverse workforce creates more opportunities to understand and satisfy the needs of a diverse community of customers.
Improved job satisfaction and commitment through greater opportunity for participation in decision making. Employees stay motivated longer and offer greater productivity when they are treated with dignity and respect.
The open, flexible and participative work environment most favourable for a diverse workforce also is most favorable for employee innovation. Improved performance and greater innovation arises through harnessing the creativity of a group of people with different ways of looking at things cooperatively.
Employee Recruitment and Retention
A workplace that demonstrates interest in workers as people first, then employees, can attract and retain a higher-quality workforce. By valuing every single employee, we improve the working environment for everyone.
Continuous Quality Improvement
A workplace where the talents and contributions of all employees are included, recognized and valued is needed for continuous quality improvement.
Teams have much to gain by accepting and learning from their colleagues' differences, rather than fighting them or blaming them for failures or shortfalls. This acceptance leads to more effective communication, which nurtures and supports continued employee, team and company success.
More than ever, successful organizations need employees with different backgrounds, beliefs, needs, lifestyles, and physical abilities. Failure to work together can destroy productivity and expose your business to expensive lawsuits, harassment and discrimination claims. Neither valuing diversity nor managing it can be done quickly or easily. Both require long-term planning and regular evaluation. But the rewards for such work, including a more comfortable and productive work environment for all employees, are significant enough to warrant the effort.
How can I Assist my Team to Value Diversity?
You need to create an environment where diversity is valued. Setting ground rules that ensure that team members:
- Treat others with respect and consideration;
- Work to build an environment in which everyone can fully participate;
- Are open-minded - Listen and respond to views of others;
- Contribute ideas and draw on the skills, knowledge and background of each person;
- Identify and cooperatively address barriers to diversity and participation;
- Not tolerate harassment and discrimination.
Set up an opportunity in non-threatening environment for each team member to:
- Connect with and value the diversity of their own culture and background
- Question the assumptions they make about others
- Connect with and value the diversity of other team memberís culture and background
- Evaluate how they approach conflict
As the team leader, you need to display leadership in this area, by:
- Actively encouraging staff to contribute their ideas and provide opportunities for them to do so;
- Displaying a genuine commitment to workplace diversity - accepting differences and seeking a diverse range of views on issues;
- Learning about the people you work with, in particular get to know their skills, knowledge and backgrounds;
- Supporting staff to balance their work and personal lives;
- Leading by example - demonstrating a commitment to workplace diversity;
- Actively promote the benefits of diversity for the team;
- Recognise and promote the team's workplace diversity successes and ensure the team learns from their mistakes.
How can I Value Diversity in my Business?
Establish Management Commitment
Senior management commitment is required for any initiative to be successful. Without their commitment or demonstrated leadership, initiatives stall, fall substantially short of the expectation or just plain fail. Having a management team who is committed and consistent in their behaviour results in organisational change that is quicker, deeper and more sustainable. Management commitment is more likely to lead to:
- Greater loyalty and commitment being demonstrated by managers at every level
- Employment issues around diversity being integrated into core business activities
- Changes in systems, for example, pay equity, training opportunities etc
- Changes in work practices and expectations, for example, flexibility.
You must work to actively help management discover and rediscover the value of EEO and Diversity. Talk to as many managers as possible and ask their opinions on EEO and Diversity. Ask what would help them be more involved and supportive of EEO and diversity programmes. Find out what they are most concerned about in their role. Find out what they consider to the indicators of their success. Then look at how EEO and diversity can meet their needs. Use specific, readable charts and graphs on areas that address their needs to communicate their value. You can obtain and keep management commitment by continually communicating how EEO and diversity programmes are meeting their needs.
Make sure to keep them informed - your management team needs to understand what is going on at all times.
Aim to build an improved awareness and understanding of workplace diversity by:
- Providing targeted awareness raising on workplace diversity;
- Identifying opportunities for the integration of diversity principles into the business;
- Having in place an active network of contact officers supporting workplace diversity
Review Systems, Policies and Procedures to Identify Barriers
Review and implement workplace arrangements, systems and procedures that promote diversity by:
- Supporting workplace leaning and development activities that assist staff to contribute to their maximum potential;
- Continually reviewing recruitment policies and practices to ensure there are no barriers to diversity;
- Having in place work practices that enable people to contribute to their maximum potential;
- Having flexible working arrangements that assist staff to balance their work and personal commitments;
- Reviewing workplace communication and information sharing to ensure inclusive practices.
Information Gathering and Analysis
Establish a clear picture of your staffing profile, practices and opportunities for improvement by:
- Maintaining a comprehensive and accurate database of your staff profile;
- Undertaking a staff survey to identify areas requiring action and to test the effectiveness of your strategies;
- Benchmarking yourself against other businesses - find out what other businesses are doing.
Get in Touch with Jump
If you need help, or you answered no or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.
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