Effective Management of Diversity in the Workplace

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Diversity management, executed effectively, assists companies to maximize the full potential of their workforce. It identifies strengths, skills and talents of existing employees and areas of opportunities for growth and inclusion. The more diverse the organization is, the more prepared the organization is to meet the growing and changing needs of clients and customers to achieve sustainable growth.

Executive Leadership

One of the most effective tools to generate company-wide respect and compliance with diversity efforts is to have the involvement of upper-level executives. When new policies or programs are announced, the chief executive officer should make the announcement. This sends a “signal” throughout the organization that the diversity effort is an official company policy. As a result, diversity efforts will be respected, complied with and honored among a greater number of members of the organization.

Incorporation into Corporate Policies

Human resources directors and managers are the key stakeholders in setting corporate policies and programs. They should demonstrate a serious commitment to diversity by developing programs to educate workforce members on the benefits, the need and value that diversity will bring to the organization. Human resource professionals should maximize and leverage every opportunity to incorporate and promote diversity through internal communications vehicles, including employee newsletters and special events, and especially in hiring practices.

Inclusion

Diversity management incorporates the basic understanding that companies are composed of people. From that point, at its best, diversity management then moves forward to recognize that people come from various backgrounds, ethnicities, capabilities, interests and areas of expertise. The goal of an organization is to truly embrace the diversity of their pool of talent and how best to draw from the differences to assist in achieving the overall organization objectives and goals. For example, a company with global ambitions should leverage multi-lingual skills of employees who speak other languages to enter new markets. A company who strives to increase its market share in urban markets would involve youth and members of various ethnic groups to contribute ideas for new products to attract urban customers.

Respect of Limitations

In the past, diversity was generally viewed in terms of race and gender. However, diversity is far more inclusive and comprehensive. It also includes recognizing the capabilities of various members of the organization and providing them with opportunities to contribute to the organization. For example, employees who are challenged with mobility should be provided with access to areas within the organization. Elevators should be wheelchair accessible. Parking spaces should provide ease of access for the handicapped. Conference rooms should have double or widened doors to allow entry for those who require extra space for wheelchairs or the use of crutches. Presentations should include capabilities for the hearing, reading or visually impaired.

Reporting of Compliance and Fulfillment

Companies should set diversity goals. This could include setting annual goals for recruitment and hiring of minorities, females and the disabled. Results of efforts should be a part of annual reports and other communications vehicles that reach employees, shareholders, clients and members of the board of directors.

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