5 ways to en­cour­age work­place di­ver­sity

Lately, work­place di­ver­sity has been gen­er­at­ing a lot of buzz. Count­less stud­ies have been done over the last cou­ple of years. Ev­ery week, the bl­o­go­sphere gen­er­ates a ton of thought-pro­vok­ing dis­cus­sion about this topic. And it is all hap­pen­ing for good r

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - ENEWS & TECH -

To­day, busi­nesses have greater ac­cess to global tal­ent. To at­tract and re­tain the best of what the world has to of­fer, lead­er­ship teams need to be­come more un­der­stand­ing and sen­si­tive on what it means for an em- ployee to feel not only val­ued and ap­pre­ci­ated, but also re­spected. And when lead­ers earn their re­spect, em­ploy­ees will do all that they can to en­cour­age or­gan­i­sa­tional growth.

They key is know­ing how to man­age work­force di­ver­sity and nur­ture un­der­stand­ing of – and even ap­pre­ci­a­tion in – ev­ery­one’s dif­fer­ences. In the Econ­o­mist In­tel­li­gence Unit’s (EIU) global study Value-based di­ver­sity: The chal­lenges and strengths of many (spon­sored by Suc­cessFac­tors, an SAP com­pany), HR lead­ers echoed th­ese top five strate­gies for fos­ter­ing a work­place that em­braces di­ver­sity:

1. Men­tor new and high­po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees

Cre­at­ing a lead­er­ship team that ap­pre­ci­ates the di­ver­sity of its work­force starts on the ground floor. Com­pa­nies that ex­cel in di­ver­sity man­age­ment use for­mal men­tor­ing pro­grams to iden­tify and nur­ture high-po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees. By de­vel­op­ing a fu­ture pool of lead­ers that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the di­verse cul­tures, val­ues, races, gen­ders, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, and re­li­gious be­liefs of the over­all work­force, the lead­er­ship team of the fu­ture will be able to in­flu­ence the cur­rent lead­er­ship team to de­velop pro­cesses and pro­grams that en­hance em­ployee en­gage­ment and loy­alty.

2. Ex­pose high-po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees to di­verse busi­ness sit­u­a­tions

Ac­cord­ing to the EUI study, di­verse teams tend to be more cre­ative, pro­duce more so­lu­tions, and were far more adept at ‘think­ing out­side the box.’ It also found that di­verse teams were more dif­fi­cult to man­age, re­quir­ing greater flex­i­bil­ity and cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity on the part of lead­ers. Al­low­ing high-po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees to ex­pe­ri­ence a vast ar­ray of busi­ness sit­u­a­tions not only chal­lenges their own be­liefs, but sen­si­tizes them to con­sider what em­ploy­ees need to feel ap­pre­ci­ated and val­ued.

3. Make work­ing ar­range­ments flex­i­ble

Flex­i­ble work ar­range­ments and prac­tices speak to our deeply held val­ues of fair­ness and jus­tice as hu­man be­ings. Prac­tices such as mod­i­fied daily start and end times, part-time sched­ules, a com­pressed work week, telecom­mut­ing, and job shar­ing gives em­ploy­ees the choice of how they can ac­com­plish the work they are hired to do and care for fam­ily mem­bers or nur­ture their tal­ents in other ways. And if done well, the busi­ness ben­e­fits ten-fold – be­cause an em­ployee who is feel per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally ful­filled is a pro­duc­tive em­ployee.

4. Pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ter­na­tional ca­reer

Di­ver­sity is as much about the range of ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties of- fered within one coun­try as the chance to de­velop an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer that in­volves liv­ing and work­ing in mul­ti­ple coun­tries. Not only can it chal­lenge the views of em­ploy­ees who de­cide to take this path, but it can be a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that can be used later to help the over­all work­place em­brace dif­fer­ences never-be­fore en­coun­tered or con­sid­ered.

Cre­at­ing a lead­er­ship team that ap­pre­ci­ates the di­ver­sity of its work­force starts on the ground floor. Com­pa­nies that ex­cel in di­ver­sity man­age­ment use for­mal men­tor­ing pro­grams to iden­tify and nur­ture high-po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees.

5. Em­power di­verse teams to ad­dress strate­gic busi­ness chal­lenges

Con­flict is nor­mal when work­ing with di­verse teams, es­pe­cially when cer­tain val­ues are re­garded as some­thing that is de­tract­ing from the over­all goal. In sit­u­a­tions like this, HR lead­ers should pro­vide the team with tools nec­es­sary to re­solve any is­sues them­selves. For ex­am­ple, the team lead should learn to un­der­stand other mem­bers’ con­flict styles and help mem­bers un­der­stand and de­velop the use of more ef­fec­tive styles. By us­ing prin­ci­pled ne­go­ti­a­tion and plan­ning, the team’s abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate can sup­port the cur­rent and fu­ture suc­cess of the team.

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