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Solutions for Workplace Diversity

by Lisa Finn

Employers with diverse workplaces have made the long-term commitment to hire, promote and retain employees based on the law. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful to treat employees differently based on age, gender, race or ability. However, obtaining a diverse workplace is more than just hiring employees of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Finding real solutions to workplace diversity is about assisting employees with community outreach projects, implementing diversity programs, and respecting and welcoming all workers.

Recognize The Company's Problems

Companies should assess employee and business goals by asking questions such as: What problems are we facing with revenue? Are we producing the best customer service or creative results? The answers to these questions will bring diversity solutions to the forefront. Brad Karsh is the president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, a company that works with employers to enhance business skills. He says that people gravitate toward businesses that understand and relate to them. Therefore, the more diversity a company has, the more commonalities and similarities between employees and clients.

Promote All Qualified Candidates

A diverse workplace is filled with people of various abilities, nationalities and genders who have the necessary skills for advancement. Promoting from within keeps the workplace diverse when a company promotes based on skill and positive performance, not personality or gender, for example. Passing up a pregnant woman for promotion because she is set to take maternity leave or refusing to move a male employee from the warehouse to the sales team of a woman's clothing company is considered unlawful discrimination. When this happens, employees feel disconnected in the company and stop engaging in important projects, says Douglas N. Silverstein, a Los Angeles-based employment and labor law attorney.

Assess Employee Needs

Interview employees about what they want to see happen in the workplace. How can the company help employees boost morale, productivity and sales? This is the first step in making employees fee valued and respected. "Employers should use employee workplace assessments, satisfaction surveys and data to find out which diversity policies would greatly help employees and, therefore, the business at large," explains Karsh. He adds that a diverse workplace comes about when every employee has access to job-skill training, cultural- and generational-sensitivity workshops and community service outreach opportunities.

Write A Diversity Plan

The diversity findings should then be detailed in a written plan. The organization's goals should include diverse hiring practices, employee benefits and fair promotion opportunities regardless of age, gender, culture, race or disability. The plan should also state the programs and policies put into place to promote diversity. For example, Michael Bach, the national director of diversity, equity and inclusion for accounting firm KPMG, explains that KPMG's diversity plan includes training on GlobeSmart, a program that helps employees understand different cultures when visiting clients in other countries. An employee going to China, for example, would answer a profile on GlobeSmart, which would then tell him what to be aware of when doing business in China or when working with a person from China.

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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