Caryn Walsh

We talk about the importance of workplace diversity and the richness it brings to Organisational effectiveness. Why then, do so many Companies struggle to successfully integrate a diverse workforce into their ranks? If workplace diversity is so advantageous, why do so many Organisation’s struggle to implement it successfully?

We believe there are 6 main reasons:

  1. Discrimination: People judge others and stereo-type each other. Think about your own workplace and reflect on whether this happens. An example is a woman being passed over for a promotion ‘because it’s a man’s job and she has children to go home to.’ This may not happen in your Company, but covertly it happens in many
  2. Prejudice: People are prejudiced against each other, or a particular racial group or gender, for example. Prejudice against a disabled or pregnant woman are two examples
  3. Inflexibility: Our minds are made up about other people and we are so inflexible in our thinking that we are not prepared to ‘give them a go’ or encourage them to greater heights in their career. Research indicates that this is more prevalent in management positions.
  4. Communication difficulties: Speaking different languages is often a barrier to effective communication and working well together. Rather than making the effort to learn how to communicate better with each other, for many it’s too hard and potentially valuable workplace relationships are doomed before they start.
  5. Historical barriers: Organisational cultures are set over a long period of time and to break them down can be difficult. The ‘we’ve always done it this way around here’ attitude is a good example, even though new ideas and ways of doing things are being presented.
  6. An ineffective (or non-existent) workplace diversity policy and inefficient processes to support diversity: Organisations often talk about ‘workplace diversity’ but don’t implement it properly or support it with robust policies and procedures. Organisations, through their policies and procedures, need to ensure that workplace diversity is successfully embraced and implemented.

Ways to implement an effective workplace diversity policy include:

Take stock of how well your workplace diversity is going, form a Workplace Diversity Project team to design, monitor and implement a successful plan, promote diversity in leadership roles, promote open communication amongst the troops and teach your staff to value the differences. These are some ways to improve, and value, the richness of workplace diversity.

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