Savvy business owners and managers know that diversity in the workplace is a true benefit. After all, when you have more people from different backgrounds coming together, your business may be a more creative and accepting place. This type of work environment may foster a positive, can-do attitude with a strong team mentality. However, as amazing as diversity can be for your workplace, it is not without its challenges. These are some of the more common challenges that you may face when spreading diversity in your workplace.
The unfortunate reality is that prejudice still runs rampant. As progressive as some people like to think that the current environment is, prejudices may be blatant and offensive or subtle and even unintentional. Personal prejudice can develop through the way a person was raised as a child, because of specific incidents in a person’s life and more. Remember that prejudice can go both ways, and minorities can be just as prejudice as non-minorities.
Another challenge related to workplace diversity is misconceptions about different races and cultures. Some people have not been extensively exposed to other cultures and ethnicities up to this point. They may have formed an opinion about individuals based on their background or ethnicity, and these opinions may be misguided or entirely untrue. Hosting regular diversity training sessions is a great way to overcome misconceptions and to foster goodwill. Team building exercises can also be effective in many organizations.
Management can also take a direct role in fostering a team mentality in the office. By celebrating the strengths of individuals, you may draw attention to how beneficial individuals are to the company. You can also focus on the strengths and achievements of different teams. When these teams are diverse, you can talk about how the strengths of all individuals combined to achieve great things that are good for all involved.
Some diversity issues are broad and based on a specific gender, race or culture. Others are more personalized, but personal conflicts may still be based on culture or other differences. For example, one employee may have a strong dislike for odors associated with specific ethnic foods, products or something else. This type of conflict may cause both parties to feel hostile toward each other. Diversity training can also be helpful in this type of situation.
A diverse workplace is beneficial to companies in many ways, but developing an open-minded team is not always easy. While you may be able to help individuals overcome misconceptions and biases through training and managerial guidance, there may be times when beliefs are so strong that the individual must be removed from the company for the overall benefit of the organization.