Explain diversity in the workplace

Written by raphael garcia
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Diversity has become a major point of interest in today's marketplace. To stay competitive it's vital to understand the communities that you wish to serve. One step towards this understanding is by employing individuals from various backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles. A diverse work group can impact your company and its success in a variety of ways. A number of challenges to overcome also await when trying to develop a diverse workforce.

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What is Diversity?

The basic definition of diversity means to have variety within a group. When explained in the confines of the workplace environment, diversity takes on a new meaning. To some individuals who misunderstand the concept, diversity means having a staff that has a number of minority employees. However, diversity runs deeper than just racial differences. Factors such as city of origin, religion and sexual orientation all play a part in how diverse a group of employees may be. It's possible to have a staff with the same racial demographics but still be considered diverse due to other differences among the group.

Developing Diversity

A number of strategies exist to help organise and develop a diverse workforce. To begin, organisations may send recruiters to a number of schools throughout the country looking for possible candidates. These firms may begin to look for more applicants from schools in particular locations or demographic settings such as historically black colleges and universities. Some organisations may contract outside vendors who lead diversity instruction seminars. These programs are meant to help build an understanding among coworkers of individuals who are different than themselves.

Benefits

Having a diverse work group can bring a number of benefits to your organisation. For example, if your staff represents a variety of different backgrounds, that can help with the development of new ideas and processes. Bringing together individuals of different backgrounds can help create new ideas due to their various life experiences. Another benefit of having a diverse staff is to help with the retention of current minorities. Diversity in the work group can help provide employees with a segment of coworkers with whom they can relate.

Challenges

Organizations face certain challenges when trying to build a diverse workforce. For example, some individuals may not agree with or understand the reasoning of developing a diverse workplace. This misunderstanding can lead to a belief of racial preference, which can cause feelings of resentment or dislike. Another potential problem is an increase in conflicts between individuals of different backgrounds due to misunderstandings. While an employee may not have meant an action as offensive, another person of a different background may take offence, which would cause conflict.

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When bringing together a diverse workgroup it's important that everyone understand the purpose. Training management on how to lead a diverse workgroup is an important first step. When leadership figures buy into the development of a diverse workforce, this can help ease any tension that may arise with the rest of the staff. Provide additional training to any other employees as well to help foster the transition.

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