God is the author of diversity. Black, white, brown, yellow, He made us humans. LOL!
Why would you want to have workplace filled with the same color type, mindset, background or perspective of life? Some companies even go as far as employing graduates of a certain set of schools. If any employee has got special talent and got into this kind of company without attending any of the preferred schools, natural competition starts.
The black sheep wants to prove superiority of his school. Collaboration replaces cooperation. Guess, you want unity in your workplace. Yes, there could be uniformity in diversity so far you don’t promote adversity in any guise.
What does diversity in office mean?
It means having people of different race, age, gender, ethnic group, personality, religion, education level, cognitive style working together as a team. It sounds quite easy, right? It could be a pain in the neck when differences are emphasized instead of being used as strength.
Likewise, there are solutions to issues that may arise as a result of people being different in one way or the other.
Imagine working in an office in Lagos where your boss is 100% Igbo man who doesn’t speak Yoruba fluently but understands based on body language. Every time there is a funny situation and everybody laughs about it, speaking in Yoruba dialect, such oga will be most likely suspicious. He wouldn’t know if he is the subject of laughter.
Some bosses even ban vernacular completely in the office to ensure everybody speaks ‘fonetik’. With such rule firmly in place, ‘oga boss’ can be sure he knows guys are not laughing at him to his face.
Diversity in office is beyond how people think about themselves. It includes how people perceive others. Someone’s perception will definitely affect his/her interaction with others.
It is the human resources manager’s responsibility to ensure there is a levelled playing ground for every member of the team.
How Best Can I manage Diversity in My Office?
As a business owner or people manager where diverse people will work, be prepared to tackle issues such as communication, adaptability and change. As you anticipate the growth of your business, you should be aware that different kinds of people will join your team.
It will be proactive of you to get prepared for diversity so that new people who are different, for one reason or the other, onboard properly and feel at home from day one.
What are benefits of diversity to my business?
Broad Spectrum of Service
Diversity increases competitiveness of a business, not competition within if properly handled. Having diverse people within your organization open your business up to audience of other extractions.
For instance, your customer service will benefit a lot from a team of agents who can speak different languages or dialects. Assuming you have three customer service agents and each of them, apart from English language, can speak at least two other Nigerian dialects.
You have the potential of accommodating as many as 6 dialects from across Nigeria.
You won’t get the great benefit of such diversity until you have a very good customer of yours who is annoyed with your company.
No matter how angry Nigerians are, I have noticed that when they meet someone from their hometown or who speaks their parents’ dialect, they calm down at least. Then, they can listen to whatever you have to tell them. Even, if you don’t solve the problem immediately, some assurance and trust comes in through speaking the same language.
This not promoting unethical vernacular speaking in a corporate environment, it is speaking to customers in the language, accent and tone they best understand.
Variety of Points of View
Your business aims at helping target audience and get money in return. When brainstorming, no matter how experienced or professional you are, ideas on how to reach some prospects might just beat you.
But people of different origin or upbringing may have some help for you because of what and where they have been through.
A diverse team thinks wide and is able to cover a very wide spectrum of audience more than a team of same people who see everything the same way.
Sometimes, as a leader, the best of ideas don’t emanate from your head. Your team members provide them. How then is your team supposed to consistently churn out different but effective approaches to business if you are all the same?
It may seem trivia to others, but accepting some people for whom they are and treating them the way they like despite they are different is quite inspirational. They feel motivated to cash in on what is peculiar to them to make the team deliver better.
If an organization wants to organize HIV/AIDS awareness program as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, for instance. Passing their message through an HIV positive person who lives healthy will have more impact on the audience than a regular person.
This approach will ginger more audience to listen the brand message.
The same goes for influencer marketing. You put forward someone whom majority of your target audience can relate with. This has delivered fantastic results on many occasions more than mere advertising. Think of a music superstar as a brand ambassador for any of our teleco companies right now, and try to evaluate the reception of messages passed by such ambassador.
You will understand better how different from the pack gives you the edge to deliver your message in your unique way as a business person.
What are the challenges caused by diversity at work?
Passing instruction is one thing, interpreting and carrying it out is something different. Diversity can cause vacuum in information dissemination. It could negatively affect how people perceive what is assigned to them or how messages are passed across to them.
Everyone within a team must ensure that key objectives of the organization are clearly passed across as much as possible.
Some people are rigid, it is just natural. They don’t want to change the way they have been doing things, despite change is the only constant thing in life. Such people may have issues getting along with new people. As a leader, business owner or human resource person, be open-minded and encourage others to embrace change when diverse people join your team.
Consistently review your processes or protocols, so long they do not negatively impact on your company’s goals.
Knowledge gap, at times, could hinder thorough implementation of company policies to ensure that every staff is treated fairly regardless of some reserved inclinations. Some companies don’t have documented policies yet and most things are done based on discretion.
Imagine you employ a new guy now. In one of your discussions, you or his colleagues find out he is gay. It is normal for people to react differently. Do you have a policy that handles that now?
This post is out to urge you to be proactive. Make provisions for diverse people in your office and everyone will be better for it.
How do I make Diversity Work in My Business?
Review your company policies periodically to see how much space and sense of belonging they give to everyone who currently works with you and prospective employees.
Seek to officially recognize and celebrate the diversity in your team.
Feedback from Staff
Set up an effective feedback system that allow staff to be anonymous so they can be sincere.
Ask them to state what they think has changed over and what could be the best way to handle such situations.
They will help your company evolve along with your workforce.
Documentation of Diversity Plan
Whatever decisions you take on recognizing and honoring diversity in your office should be explicitly documented. It sets standard and disallows favoritism of any form. People won’t be afraid to put themselves forward for your business when they know they are covered appropriately.
The bottom-line and the most effective remedy to diversity in a workplace is to operate open-door policy. Let everybody feel welcome and equally important. There is greatness in diversity if properly channeled.
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