Some of the dimensions of diversity not mentioned are family issues, gender, gender identity expression, transgender workers, generation, opportunity for competitive success, language, sexual orientation and veteran status.
Inclusion describes the extent to which every person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member. It is a two-way accountability; each person must grant and accept inclusion from others. This requires people from diverse backgrounds to communicate and work together and attempt to understand the others’ needs and perspective….in essence, to show some cultural competence.
Cultural competence is described as having a sensitivity to the differences among and effectiveness in communicating and working with people from different cultural backgrounds. People who are ‘alike’ tend to communicate with and understand each other; people who are different tend to confront more obstacles to effective communication and mutual understanding.
An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize the benefits:
***A more diverse environment can supply greater varieties of solutions to problems such as servicing, sourcing and allocation of resources;
***Employees from diverse backgrounds bring a multitude of talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands;
***A diverse collection of skills and experiences (languages, cultural understanding) allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis;
***A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more effectively;
***Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest ability. Company-wide strategies can then be executed which will result in higher productivity, profit and return on investment (ROI).
Developing a diverse workplace is not without challenges….ineffective communication can result in confusion….resistance to change…that ‘we’ve always done it this way’ attitude is sometimes a monumental issue to address…especially in smaller companies or individual departments within larger organizations. A strategy must be put in place…no matter how the diversity initiative is going to be tackled….put it in writing and follow it…share it with employees/staff. A strategy must be implemented to create a culture of diversity that will permeate the organization.
A few of the things that need to be done to begin to implement a diversity initiative are utilizing diversity training programs/techniques and promote diversity in leadership positions. Managers must be aware of discrimination and its consequences. Management needs to remember that diversity is not about differences among groups but differences among individuals. Personal awareness is the ‘key’.
Promoting a ‘safe’ place for individuals to communicate is vital. Social gatherings and business meetings where every member must listen and have a chance to speak are good ways to begin/create dialogues. Mentoring programs are helpful in providing associates information and opportunities. Also, please remember that giving good constructive criticism to associates should never be denied.
As a Unitarian Universalist I learned a good while ago (nearly 15 years now) that my life is broadened and enhanced by sitting in church between a Buddhist and an Agnostic on Sunday mornings…working with those of diverse backgrounds, interests and experiences is a wonderful life experience that all should be encouraged to embrace.
Please contact Rosanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 484-798-1236 if you or your organization has any questions regarding diversity or diversity initiatives.