Practicing diversity has certainly made the workplace a much more interesting, dynamic and exciting place. When different people from different backgrounds start working together, they can all exchange information, traditions and experiences with each other. This makes the workforce a much more balanced and tolerant place to work in.
The fun comes with a trade-off, though. It has also made professional life more challenging, unpredictable, and complicated. While in a homogenous working environment, one can easily mention something in a lighter vein, the same joke could turn out to be highly insulting to people in a diverse working place.
Lawsuits have been filed over off-handed remarks by managers in the presence of co-workers who found the manager’s sayings offensive. People working in diverse teams have to be more cautious than ever of not hurting anyone’s sentiments through their words, actions, or behaviors.
Many of those in diverse teams have stated their discomfort in making comments and sharing their thoughts openly because they are unsure of, what may offend their co-workers. They say that it’s difficult to know what the right thing to say anymore, because discussing things that were embedded into their subconscious minds for years since childhood are now suddenly taboo.
This is where the underlying working principle behind diversity – it needs to be understood. Diversity requires respecting one’s own beliefs while learning the skills of dealing appropriately with beliefs and values that may be totally different.
When we put people of different color, gender, and ethnicities into one workplace, we get the advantage of the many different ways of thinking these people bring with them. Many of these factors may not have an immediate noticeable impact, however diverse groups bring a lot of variety through their personality, thought process, processing information, assertiveness, values, energy levels, education levels, experience, goals, political views, lifestyle, and social status, among many others.
Diversity is much more than skin color, gender, or background. It’s internal and external. Skin color is a byproduct of pigmentation, and doesn’t determine how we think, feel, or believe. Similarly, we had no choice of our gender, which is a random gene-based selection process. Things like skin color and gender should not dictate our goals, ambitions, or careers.
As children, we learn about morals, values, and religious beliefs from our parents, teachers and surroundings. These learnings that we receive at an early stage of our lives lay the foundation for our personalities. Depending on the kind of upbringing we receive, we develop a thought-process.
However, we relearn and adjust our values and morals over the course of our lives. Each of us is diverse in many ways and bring many qualities to the workforce and the world in general. The key to succeed in such a world is to learn the art of having a level-headed conversation on tough topics, while respecting other’s sensibilities and values at the same time.
Having a diverse workforce will lead to having associates and managers who are people from various languages, cultures, values, and beliefs. Today’s workplaces are highly heterogeneous and this has brought about many changes in the traditional ways of doing business.
Now, we find companies doing their best to get their methods of functioning scrutinized and restructured on a daily basis so that their workforce can be more inclusive and composite in nature. When different people bring different views to the table, there are possibilities of discussions off-shooting to a potential business opportunity.
Mastering and applying Diversity in Workplace will help professionals and managers understand a diverse workforce better, so that they can attract new talent and retain productive employees in a today’s competitive global economy.
This also helps managers to create a dynamic and complete work environment where all employees are respected and treated with dignity. It ensures that every person’s commitment to the company is maximized by making him feel as if he belongs in this place.