A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Diversity in the Workplace

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February 19, 2021

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In 2043, the United States is slated to reach a rather historic milestone: it becomes what’s called a majority-minority nation

This means that one or more racial or ethnic minorities will make up most of the population by that year.  As we head towards this momentous occasion, companies must work tirelessly to build diversity into their workforce. If they stubbornly refuse to do so, they risk being left in the dust by those that take the initiative to put these programs into place.

Many business leaders have a profound understanding of the reality we're heading towards. Others implement diversity measures merely to comply with legal requirements, such as quotas or HR policies.

These company heads don't have a clue about diversity beyond meaningless terms such as "inclusion” or “equity.” While there’s no harm in these words in and of themselves, they’re often used to the point of cliché.

If you want your efforts to succeed, you’ll have to move beyond giving lip service to the concept of diversity and be passionately invested in making it a living reality within your organization. In the coming years, companies that understand how to effectively manage diversity in the workplace will hold a massive advantage over those that don’t.

In this article, you’ll learn the best ways to manage diversity, hazards to avoid when you’re implementing a diversity program, setting solid practices and policies for workplace conduct, and more.

Ready to get started?

What does a diverse workplace look like?

Diversity means ensuring that there’s a lot of “differentness” in your organization.

This can mean differences in gender identity, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. However, it doesn’t stop there. It also refers to differences like physical ability, whether you’re a veteran, and if you have children.

When your average Jane thinks of workplace diversity, she often thinks of the kind of differences you can see with the naked eye.

To fully understand the concept, your employees must also be mindful of diversity of thought and its role.

Benefits of diversity in the workplace

Workplace diversity isn’t something you do just because it’s the morally right thing to do.

That’s because there’s a dizzying array of benefits that’ll accrue to a company that has a burning commitment to implementing diversity measures.

Here are just a few:

Provides you with a keen competitive advantage

Having a diverse workplace can give you a razor-sharp competitive edge over your rivals.

Diversity allows organizations to benefit from the richness of employees’ cultural experiences, helping everyone to see from a multidimensional perspective. Then, astonishing new ideas are born that have the potential to utterly transform your company.

In other words, a vibrantly diverse labor force leads to diversity in thinking.

Suppose you have an entire company full of carbon copies of each other who only think in one narrowly defined way. In that case, you're not going to get the kind of ingenuity that results in ground-breaking innovation. However, by being fully invested in diversity measures, you’ll help foster the vibrant creativity from which revolutionary breakthroughs arise.

Working with individuals from backgrounds vastly different from yours will challenge you to think differently. You’ll benefit, the company will benefit, and your workforce will benefit too.

So, unbelievable though it may sound, diversity adds a tremendous amount of value to an organization’s bottom line.

67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is crucial to them when considering job offers.

By recruiting a diverse workforce, you'll have a larger pool of applicants from which to choose. This can lead to discovering more qualified candidates and drastically reducing the amount of time it takes to fill your vacant positions. 

Helps your employer brand

Not only can you fill positions more quickly by recruiting from stunningly diverse talent pools, but a diverse workforce also immeasurably benefits your employer brand.

Your employer brand will suffer when the entire workforce is composed of people who look, act, and think the same. If you want to entice the right kind of talent, you're going to need to have an employer brand that includes diversity in all its forms.

Helps you expand markets

Having a varied labor force with multi-lingual employees and workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds can also help your organization expand into international, national, regional, and local markets. 

If your workforce is an excellent reflection of the demographics you’re going after, you’ll have an easier time making the sale. You’ll also be able to better understand your target audience and what motivates them.

There will be increased customer satisfaction because the way your team members interact with a diverse clientele will vastly improve.

Managing diversity in the workplace: hazards to avoid

When managing diversity in the workplace, there are some hazards to avoid.

Many business leaders forget that true diversity doesn’t only mean hiring people different from yourself. It’s also creating a workplace culture where everyone feels like they truly belong.

If your corporate environment is a place where people cannot connect or be their authentic selves, you’re going to end up with a demoralized workforce. Pretty soon, your employees will leave in droves, and you'll have a colossal retention issue on your hands.

It's crucial to let diversity be the invisible hand that guides your hiring decisions. However, you need to also do everything in your power to ensure that there's an excellent corporate fit for members of your diverse workforce.

Avoid using corporate buzzwords such as “bridging the gap” or “improving equity.” To most employees, these words are meaningless. Business leaders need to be transparent about the representation issues they want to get rid of. If you use jargon that rings hollow, employees will quickly pick up on the inauthenticity and won’t be invested in your efforts.

Call diversity what it is, which is a way to dramatically bolster representation from traditionally underrepresented groups.

When you have a diverse labor force, communication between employees can prove to be challenging. English might not be the first language of many of your team members. Linguistic hurdles could mean that team members might have difficulty understanding each other. If this happens, information essential to the smooth running of your outfit won't be communicated.

This could hurt your company's productivity.

8 effective ways to manage diversity in the workplace

Here are eight amazingly effective ways to manage diversity in your workplace:

1. Overhaul your job descriptions

If you want to manage diversity in the workplace, start with your job descriptions.

Lots of times, when companies write their job descriptions, unconscious bias sneaks in. 

Make sure that doesn’t happen with your company!

A job description can significantly affect workplace diversity because it's the applicant's first impression of company culture. That's why job descriptions should be written to be as gender-neutral as possible and to attract underrepresented candidates.

2. Encourage employees to work in heterogeneous groups

Diverse work teams let employees know and value one another individually. They also help break down preconceived notions and cultural misunderstandings. 

This can only strengthen your organization.

3. Encourage employees to look outside their own experience

Encourage every member of your organization to recognize that their experience, background, and cultural sensitivities aren’t the only ones with value.

Look for ways to include a diverse range of perspectives and talents in efforts to achieve organizational goals. 

4. Have diverse interview panels

When putting together an interview panel, make sure that it’s diverse.

This way, candidates will be solely selected on suitability for the position, and insidious unconscious bias won’t spoil the process.

5. Offer training

You need to have a full-fledged diversity training program if you're going to make significant inroads into getting your workforce to be culturally sensitive. 

Diversity awareness training should be offered at every echelon of your organization.

A supervisor needs to understand cultural subtleties before providing feedback to employees from different countries and backgrounds. If she doesn't already possess this awareness, this can be taught during diversity awareness training.

This instruction will help create a workplace where team members understand and respect differences in race, gender, religion, cultural values, and ways of thinking. An enormous linchpin of this training is the cultivation of self-awareness, which plays a massive role in helping team members understand their prejudices, cultural biases, and stereotypes.

6. Avoid making assumptions

Don’t lean on stereotypes about people from different backgrounds. 

Instead, look upon each team member as an individual in their own right. That way, you can judge performance on the person's merit rather than assigning motivations to their cultural upbringing.

 7. Use objective criteria when disciplining an employee 

If you need to discipline your employee, use one standard set of rules.

If you adhere to these standardized criteria, you'll ensure every team member is treated the same way.

8. Set solid practices and policies for workplace conduct

To manage a diverse workplace, companies need to ensure that they effectively communicate policies and conduct standards with their employees.

You’ll need to properly document your diversity policies to make sure your employees know what they are. Include this information in your employee handbook. Diversity measures should be reviewed with every new hire. When updates to policies are made, they should be shared with current employees too.

Having a diverse workplace means that jokes about ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion need to be off-limits. Team members need to be aware of how to coexist with a diverse range of people.

However, merely coming up with superficial diversity policies and language won’t be enough to effect real change.

Leaders also need to be fully committed to the ideas that these policies embody.

At the end of the day, it’s all about who you hire

Say you want to hire a vibrantly diverse workforce.

However, you also need to attract top-tier talent that'll catapult your company to the heights of success. In that case, let Hunt Club do the heavy lifting for you.

We’ll harness the awesome power of our proprietary technology to sift through thousands of candidates to find the one that’s perfect for your open position.

Give us a call today!

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Amanda Price avatarAmanda Price