A diverse workplace is important to individual and company success. An employee who feels respected and accepted by co-workers and management is more likely to churn out better work, have solid workplace relationships and engage in more leadership roles, notes Brad Karsh, president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, which works with employers to enhance business skills. Achieving a diverse workplace begins at the top, where management believes in and supports the notion that a diverse workplace boosts business and helps to retain much-needed employees.
Follow the Law
Workplaces that follow the law and remain true to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are more likely to have a diverse workplace. According to the act, it is unlawful to mistreat employees based on age, race, gender, religion and abilities. Employers who treat workers with respect and recruit with diversity in mind reap the benefits of loyal employees who work hard to increase revenue. When employees of different cultures and experiences work together to create and problem solve, the results are positive: employee self-esteem, morale and productivity go up, while turnover and lawsuits go down.
"Millennials are often seen by the baby boomer generation as immature workers who act entitled and seem unprepared for workplace challenges," Karsh explains. A seasoned professional who automatically puts all young employees into this category misses out on the opportunity to use the generation gap to the company's advantage. Karsh notes that a diverse mixture of young and senior professionals allows employers to draw upon the past and present to create better client presentations, ad campaigns and team synergy.
Implement Diversity Programs and Education
It's crucial to workplace success that diversity is peppered throughout all departments, business initiatives and company policies. To start, have a written diversity policy, and give a copy to employees. Conduct sensitivity training and workshops for all employees. Participating in community outreach opportunities helps educate employees on diversity. A 1997 study conducted by Harvard University professor James E. Austin shows that companies that participate in philanthropic opportunities broaden the perspectives of employees and end up having a recruitment advantage.
Hire Based on Skill
Employers should always hire capable candidates based on skill and qualifications rather than looks and appearances. In doing this, a company ends up with a diverse workplace and can better capture and retain clients on a global scale. "People like to feel a connection and an appreciation for another person's culture and experiences," Karsh says. A client from Japan will connect with a sales rep who speaks Japanese, and a disabled veteran will forge connections with a client in the health care industry. Only hiring men, people under age 40 or attractive females, for example, narrows the qualified candidate pool. This means the company generates fewer diverse opinions and creative ideas and, ultimately, has a smaller multicultural client base.
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