Improving Diversity in the Workplace

We’ve looked at work Workplace Diversity is, as well as how diversity can benefit your organisation along with what barriers may be present within the workplace against achieving a truly diverse workplace. This blog will look at how your organisation can improve diversity within the workplace.

 

Creating workplace diversity is a comprehensive process for creating a work environment that is inclusive1 (see our future blogs on Inclusivity), which takes time and persistence in bringing about change. Managers need to look at the following key areas:

 

Identifying Bias

It starts with personal awareness at all levels of the organisation and understanding what biases’ may be present – our conscious biases’ (that we will be aware of) and our unconscious biases’ (ones that we may never be aware of).  

 

We encourage you to watch this short video created by The Royal Society to provide an explanation of what unconscious bias is and how it can affect an organisation – https://tinyurl.com/y2hga3fh2.

 

There are many types of bias, which will be covered in our Bias blog – feel free to read it to gain a full understanding of a range of biases, how to identify them and manage them. Bias can also be revealed through the language we use within the workplace – have a look at the Diversity Council of Australia’s “Words At Work” video to identify bias in attitudes and behaviours – https://tinyurl.com/yxlc6tue3.

 

Introducing Diversity to the Organisation

Identifying and addressing the issue starts top down. Staff are greatly influenced by the leadership team’s example, therefore it is vital that personal biases are considered and modified at this level first. Clearly communicate the business’s commitment to a diverse workforce to all staff, include it within organisational values4, gain commitment and accountability from managers to serve as role models and review recruitment processes for any present bias5.

 

From there the biases evident in the behaviour and attitudes of the organisation can be identified and addressed. It is important that all levels of the organisation “buy in” to diversity – discuss diversity with them, outline the benefits to each individual and the overall business and gain input6.

 

Training

Organisations can either develop, or employ external resources to develop, training for all employees7. The training can be given in the form of workshops, training sessions, group discussion as well as collaboration8. Avoid the “one size fits all” training – ensure that the training materials used for the sessions are specifically tailored to the individuals within your organisation, as well as particular bias issues. Training forms part of an ongoing process, therefore be prepared to deliver multiple training sessions9 – one training session won’t tackle a lifetime of bias.

 

Diversity and the Business Plan

Make diversity a key goal within your business strategy. When looking at how to grow the business, link diversity requirements in with your overall strategies – productivity, market reach, risk management, innovation and the like10. Integrating diversity into your business’ priorities ensures diversity is grown within the organisation.

 

Value Diversity

In acknowledging the differences of each of your employees, we can start to recognise and value their individual skills and qualities. Utilise these skills through:

  • Encouraging creativity and individual performance to improve overall business performance
  • Commit to improve morale, productivity and retention through employee incentives (refer to our blog “Improve Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace”)
  • Show understanding of individual needs through providing flexible working options, support mechanisms and opportunities for all genders to access parental leave

 

Workplace Diversity Plan

Implementing a Workplace Diversity Plan clearly communicates to your whole organisation that you are committed to creating a truly diverse workplace. A typical plan consists of plans and values central to the business, such as:

  • All employees are respected and valued
  • All employees are able to contribute and participate to their full potential
  • All employees skills and abilities are valued and supported11
  • And so on…

 

There are many examples you can easily access in order to develop one for your own business – we encourage you to read widely and consider the most suitable to your business.

 

In conclusion, workplace diversity can be improved through pinpointing and managing bias at all levels of the organisation, providing quality on going training, integrating diversity within your business strategy, valuing and encouraging diversity as well as implementing a Workplace Diversity Plan. Improving workplace diversity will bring great benefits to the overall business and the individuals that work in it.

 

Diversity within the workplace goes hand in hand with inclusiveness in order to improve mental health and wellbeing for employees. Our next series will focus on Inclusiveness and how to introduce it into your organisation.

 

  1. Green, Lopez, Wysocki, Kepner, “Diversity in the Workplace Benefits, Challenges”, University of Florida IFAS Extension, page 26
  2. The Royal Society, “Understanding Unconscious Bias”,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVp9Z5k0dEE, accessed 27 August 2020
  3. https://vimeo.com/266052866 accessed 27 August 2020
  4. Patrick and Kumar, “Managing Workplace Diversity Issues”, April-June 2012 edition, Sage Publications, page 4
  5. Hunt, Prince, Dixon-Fyle, Yee, “Delivery through Diversity”, McKinsey and Company, January 2018, page 27
  6. https://abilityoptions.org.au/about-us/news-events/blog/5-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace accessed 27 August 2020
  7. Patrick and Kumar, “Managing Workplace Diversity Issues”, et.al., page 2
  8. Green, Lopez, Wysocki, Kepner et.al.
  9. Patrick and Kuman, et.al. page 27
  10. Green, Lopez, Wysocki, Kepner, et.al.
  11. https://abilityoptions.org.au/about-us/news-events/blog/5-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace accessed 27 August 2020