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Examples of Diversity Issues in the Workplace

by Lisa Finn, studioD

A diverse workplace is made up of employees of different races, genders, abilities, ages and cultural differences. A company that lacks diversity often experiences deterioration of employee morale, a drop in productivity and a flat-lining bottom line. To combat this, a company needs a well-written diversity plan that details diversity policies and relies on every member of the workplace to implement and adhere to its strategies. According to the Center for American Progress, there will be no ethnic majority in our nation by 2050. This means now is the time to break racial-, gender- and age-related prejudices that create employee turmoil and workplace diversity issues.

Same-Sex Workplace

It is unlawful for a company to discriminate against people based on gender, according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For example, it's a smart company that hires both male and female warehouse workers, employs an equal amount of male and female teachers, and promotes women who can mentor younger-generation female workers. Another way businesses can overcome gender-diversity issues is by writing and distributing to every employee in the company a diversity statement that describes education and training for all employees regardless of sex, and employee sensitivity workshops and seminars.

Age-Related Prejudices

Age diversity in working groups or teams is crucial in producing creative, innovative solutions in all areas of business. Brad Karsh is the president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, a company that works with employers to enhance business skills. He says that "millennials," those born between 1980 and 2000, are often seen by the baby boomer generation as immature workers who act entitled and seem unprepared for workplace challenges. This kind of thinking causes missed opportunities for young and senior employees who could otherwise draw upon past and present experiences to create better ideas and have a functioning team synergy. Instead, a company can successfully diminish age-related issues by opening up communication through sensitivity training workshops, pairing younger-generation workers with mentors and providing relationship-building opportunities for teams that have a mixture of ages.

Cultural Differences

If a minority employee who has a track record of giving stellar presentations is suddenly dismissed from client meetings, he could feel it's because of his religious or cultural beliefs. Ultimately, this decreases his confidence, makes him feel like an outcast and hampers his contributions. To combat cultural discrimination, employers need to have a clear understanding about what topics and issues are most important to employees. Worker-satisfaction surveys and assessments should happen regularly. The data and findings can be used to create a more welcoming and inclusive employee atmosphere, such as celebrating and recognizing many religions and holidays, not just Christmas and Hanukkah, for example.

Communication Problems

Large corporations and small businesses that only hire only from a certain demographic lessen their chances of attracting new business and qualified job candidates. If a large employer hires only English-speaking employees, it has little chance of global expansion due to the eminent language barrier. Smaller businesses expecting and relying on seasoned employees to wear many hats to get things done miss out on modern industry and business changes when they don't hire young workers. For instance, when a small business takes a chance on hiring recent graduates, it may help the company communicate more efficiently by using a website, e-mail and social media. Or, new, younger employees can bring a fresh perspective to what might be an old, dusty outlook on who a company's customers should be.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

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