Valuing Diversity in the Workplace

Reviewed Apr 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter.

How can differences among people become positive attributes of a business or organization? How can employees benefit from working with people different from themselves? In short, what are the benefits of a diverse workforce?

  • All organizations need new ideas and innovations. If people were all alike, the same processes and approaches would likely be repeated. We know all people are not alike. Differences can spark creativity and new ideas thanks to divergent thinking and perspectives. It leads to innovative solutions to problems and challenges.
  • There is a bottom-line business case to be made for diversity. Companies that successfully embrace their diverse workforce will have a better chance of reaching a more diverse client or customer base. Customers appreciate companies whose employees speak their native language or who can understand their unique problems and perspectives. This results in loyalty to those companies. Companies who value diversity may also have a recruiting advantage and be able to retain more talented employees because they attract a wider range of workers and treat all people equally and fairly. Diversity becomes a competitive advantage.
  • Diversity can foster new skill sets and flexibility. Getting to know people different from you can foster flexibility, compassion, creativity, as well as new social and problem-solving skill sets. Expanding your horizon and learning about different ways of living and viewing the world can make it easier for you to relate to and get along with many kinds of people. You will be able to interact more successfully with your co-workers, customers, and the general public as a result.

Valuing differences

Casting out stereotypes begins when individuals become real and valid to us—when we understand and appreciate the special sides of their lives and thoughts, we can no longer view them as “non-individuals,” using stereotypical assumptions and perceptions about them.

It is important to enrich the organizational culture of your workplace by moving beyond basic tolerance of others to truly valuing differences. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Enhance your understanding of other cultural groups by learning about and participating in their holidays, festivals, and other events.
  • Acknowledge that you believe some stereotypes and have some prejudices.
  • Put your own biases and assumptions aside when dealing with other people.
  • Do not attempt to be culture- or color-blind.
  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter, asking questions to find out about their customs.
  • Do not assume you know or understand a person’s cultural identity on the basis of appearance or superficial data (e.g., surname).
  • Do not let discriminatory remarks or actions pass without comment.
  • Adopt an “inclusiveness” model for dealing with others.
  • Be sensitive to your own language and behaviors, stopping to think how others may feel before you speak or act.
  • When speaking to someone whose native language is different from your own, avoid the use of slang or jargon that may be confusing.
  • Do not assume everyone is like you or that your way is the best way.

While there is tremendous benefit from valuing differences amongst ourselves, let us not overlook that it is just as important for us to identify, honor, and appreciate our similarities. By acknowledging the commonalities amongst ourselves, we create a starting point for understanding and appreciating our diversity.

By Karen S. Dickason, LCSW, CEAP

Summary

  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter.

How can differences among people become positive attributes of a business or organization? How can employees benefit from working with people different from themselves? In short, what are the benefits of a diverse workforce?

  • All organizations need new ideas and innovations. If people were all alike, the same processes and approaches would likely be repeated. We know all people are not alike. Differences can spark creativity and new ideas thanks to divergent thinking and perspectives. It leads to innovative solutions to problems and challenges.
  • There is a bottom-line business case to be made for diversity. Companies that successfully embrace their diverse workforce will have a better chance of reaching a more diverse client or customer base. Customers appreciate companies whose employees speak their native language or who can understand their unique problems and perspectives. This results in loyalty to those companies. Companies who value diversity may also have a recruiting advantage and be able to retain more talented employees because they attract a wider range of workers and treat all people equally and fairly. Diversity becomes a competitive advantage.
  • Diversity can foster new skill sets and flexibility. Getting to know people different from you can foster flexibility, compassion, creativity, as well as new social and problem-solving skill sets. Expanding your horizon and learning about different ways of living and viewing the world can make it easier for you to relate to and get along with many kinds of people. You will be able to interact more successfully with your co-workers, customers, and the general public as a result.

Valuing differences

Casting out stereotypes begins when individuals become real and valid to us—when we understand and appreciate the special sides of their lives and thoughts, we can no longer view them as “non-individuals,” using stereotypical assumptions and perceptions about them.

It is important to enrich the organizational culture of your workplace by moving beyond basic tolerance of others to truly valuing differences. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Enhance your understanding of other cultural groups by learning about and participating in their holidays, festivals, and other events.
  • Acknowledge that you believe some stereotypes and have some prejudices.
  • Put your own biases and assumptions aside when dealing with other people.
  • Do not attempt to be culture- or color-blind.
  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter, asking questions to find out about their customs.
  • Do not assume you know or understand a person’s cultural identity on the basis of appearance or superficial data (e.g., surname).
  • Do not let discriminatory remarks or actions pass without comment.
  • Adopt an “inclusiveness” model for dealing with others.
  • Be sensitive to your own language and behaviors, stopping to think how others may feel before you speak or act.
  • When speaking to someone whose native language is different from your own, avoid the use of slang or jargon that may be confusing.
  • Do not assume everyone is like you or that your way is the best way.

While there is tremendous benefit from valuing differences amongst ourselves, let us not overlook that it is just as important for us to identify, honor, and appreciate our similarities. By acknowledging the commonalities amongst ourselves, we create a starting point for understanding and appreciating our diversity.

By Karen S. Dickason, LCSW, CEAP

Summary

  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter.

How can differences among people become positive attributes of a business or organization? How can employees benefit from working with people different from themselves? In short, what are the benefits of a diverse workforce?

  • All organizations need new ideas and innovations. If people were all alike, the same processes and approaches would likely be repeated. We know all people are not alike. Differences can spark creativity and new ideas thanks to divergent thinking and perspectives. It leads to innovative solutions to problems and challenges.
  • There is a bottom-line business case to be made for diversity. Companies that successfully embrace their diverse workforce will have a better chance of reaching a more diverse client or customer base. Customers appreciate companies whose employees speak their native language or who can understand their unique problems and perspectives. This results in loyalty to those companies. Companies who value diversity may also have a recruiting advantage and be able to retain more talented employees because they attract a wider range of workers and treat all people equally and fairly. Diversity becomes a competitive advantage.
  • Diversity can foster new skill sets and flexibility. Getting to know people different from you can foster flexibility, compassion, creativity, as well as new social and problem-solving skill sets. Expanding your horizon and learning about different ways of living and viewing the world can make it easier for you to relate to and get along with many kinds of people. You will be able to interact more successfully with your co-workers, customers, and the general public as a result.

Valuing differences

Casting out stereotypes begins when individuals become real and valid to us—when we understand and appreciate the special sides of their lives and thoughts, we can no longer view them as “non-individuals,” using stereotypical assumptions and perceptions about them.

It is important to enrich the organizational culture of your workplace by moving beyond basic tolerance of others to truly valuing differences. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Enhance your understanding of other cultural groups by learning about and participating in their holidays, festivals, and other events.
  • Acknowledge that you believe some stereotypes and have some prejudices.
  • Put your own biases and assumptions aside when dealing with other people.
  • Do not attempt to be culture- or color-blind.
  • Encourage informal mentor relationships between workers from different backgrounds.
  • Develop networks with people from the cultures you most frequently encounter, asking questions to find out about their customs.
  • Do not assume you know or understand a person’s cultural identity on the basis of appearance or superficial data (e.g., surname).
  • Do not let discriminatory remarks or actions pass without comment.
  • Adopt an “inclusiveness” model for dealing with others.
  • Be sensitive to your own language and behaviors, stopping to think how others may feel before you speak or act.
  • When speaking to someone whose native language is different from your own, avoid the use of slang or jargon that may be confusing.
  • Do not assume everyone is like you or that your way is the best way.

While there is tremendous benefit from valuing differences amongst ourselves, let us not overlook that it is just as important for us to identify, honor, and appreciate our similarities. By acknowledging the commonalities amongst ourselves, we create a starting point for understanding and appreciating our diversity.

By Karen S. Dickason, LCSW, CEAP

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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