Managers and employees are both responsible for the success of diversity in the workplace, but managers have the added responsibility of leading by example.
Here are some ideas to help managers encourage diversity:
- Start a mentoring program pairing individuals with different skills together to learn from each other.
- Teach your team about other cultures, which could include art, food, history, holidays, etc.
- Offer classes or lectures specific to diversity.
There are many other ways to encourage diversity within the company. A positive attitude and a message of equality go a long way.
When encouraging diversity in the workplace, managers should try to avoid the following common pitfalls:
- No diversity discrimination policy in place, or weak policies.
- Poor communication of the benefits of a diverse workforce, which can result in failing to get employee buy-in.
- Lack of diversity training.
- Management does not lead by example so employees see inconsistent messages.
- The company as a whole should represent diversity. This means that individuals representing different cultures, ages, genders, and races have roles throughout the company at all levels.
- Confusing affirmative action with diversity.
- Affirmative action is when a company gives special consideration to a specific gender, race, culture or other group that has a history of discrimination. The company may hire or promote these individuals in order to offset previous unfair acts in history.
- A company with many different races may look diverse, but if they all think the same then this is not diversity and does not bring the benefits of diversity.
People are naturally drawn towards individuals with similar traits. Embracing diversity is sometimes difficult. Managers must encourage employees to see diversity as a way to make the company stronger. In order to successfully convey this message, management must be educated in diversity and believe in the benefits themselves.