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Why Is Respect Important in a Diverse Workplace?

by Shala Munroe

Diversity has a much broader scope than race and gender. Today's offices include people of different ethnicities, ages, income levels, eduction and physical abilities, bringing a melting pot of employees together. When there's mutual respect of each other's differences, diversity can be an asset. However, when poorly managed, diversity can breed resentment and draw harsh lines between employees.

Benefits of Diversity

Each employee brings his own life experiences to work everyday, and these unique viewpoints can benefit your organization. The different viewpoints often mean more creative ideas and can help the company handle changes and adversity more effectively. Your business can typically become more flexible which can be much more attractive to a large customer base, according to the University of California at Berkeley.

Encouraging Ideas

When employees show respect for each other, they are more comfortable sharing ideas with management and during brainstorming sessions. Without mutual respect between the employees, some who feel discriminated against might not share ideas for fear of being ridiculed.

Teamwork

Teams flourish when the group is cohesive and all the team members feel valued. Bringing a diverse group together as a team requires respect for each person's beliefs and differences. When the group members respect each other, they are usually more productive, reports the University of Florida, with members more willing to step in and help when necessary and better equipped to come together quickly to deal with adversity.

Conflict Reduction

Conflict in the workplace slows down productivity as employees have trouble working together. It also breeds resentment and can lead to low morale. When employees respect their differences and embrace the group's diversity, they enter into discussions with open minds and treat each other as equals. Conflicts might still arise, but it's easier to resolve the conflicts when both parties respect each other and don't feel discriminated against when they don't get their way.

About the Author

Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.

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