Diverse teams perform better, giving organizations a competitive advantage. However, despite the positive intentions and impact, some challenges can be an obstacle. Read on to learn how to overcome these challenges and ensure diversity initiatives are successful.
An inclusive and diverse workplace is something to aspire to.
Workplace diversity brings fresh perspectives and helps attract the best talent, as well as boosts your reputation as a modern and forward-thinking company.
To achieve diversity and inclusion, however, you may have to overcome certain challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and how you can beat them.
But first, let’s consider the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Improving diversity in the workplace is far from a mere box-ticking exercise. It’s vital for creating a dynamic and future-proof culture in your business.
There are many, many benefits to diverse teams, but some of the biggest include:
So, it’s well worth bringing in DE&I (diversity, equality, and inclusivity) initiatives.
That being said, new diversity initiatives can experience both challenges and pushback. Let’s now take a look at some of these diversity implementation challenges and how to solve them.
When we think of communication barriers in a DEI context, we usually leap to things like language barriers, terminology, and dialect differences, but there's more to it than that. Communication issues also include:
It can be hard to communicate the need for diversity in a workplace—especially one with an entrenched culture. Efforts to speak about this may experience pushback, such as denial (‘This isn’t a problem’), disengagement (‘This isn’t my problem’), and derailing (‘There are more important issues to think about’).
Most of us think we’re unbiased, tolerant, and inclusive. Unfortunately, the truth is that even the most open-minded among us will often have unconscious biases.
Here are some examples of common unconscious biases:
Needless to say, any type of unconscious bias is a major impediment to successful workplace diversity.
Traditionally, some workplaces have built themselves around certain demographics. When individuals resist diversity initiatives, they can perpetuate inequalities and hinder progress toward a more inclusive workplace.
Embracing diversity brings new perspectives, ideas, and approaches to problem-solving. However, resistance to change can stifle innovation by maintaining rigid systems and processes that favor a homogeneous workforce. By resisting change, organizations miss out on the benefits of diverse perspectives and hinder their ability to adapt to evolving market needs.
When employees do not see individuals who look like them or share their backgrounds and experiences in leadership positions or throughout the organization, it can discourage diverse talent from joining and progressing within the company.
Inclusive workplaces foster a sense of belonging and psychological safety, where all employees feel valued, respected, and included. Without inclusivity, employees from underrepresented groups may face discrimination, microaggressions, or exclusion, leading to feelings of isolation and dissatisfaction. This can result in higher turnover rates among diverse talent, preventing the organization from retaining a diverse workforce and impeding DEI goals.
Celebrating diversity and hiring diverse employees from a range of different demographics is something to be applauded.
In today's interconnected world, lack of inclusivity can have a significant impact on a company's reputation. Organizations that are perceived as exclusive or discriminatory may face reputational damage, affecting their ability to attract top talent, win diverse customers, and maintain positive relationships with stakeholders.
Inclusive environments foster collaboration, trust, and psychological safety, which are crucial for teamwork and innovation. When employees do not feel included or their perspectives are dismissed, they are less likely to contribute their ideas, opinions, and expertise.
This lack of inclusivity stifles diverse voices and limits the organization's ability to tap into the full range of perspectives and talents, hindering innovation and creativity.
So, how do you overcome these challenges?
Firstly, diversity training is vital for overcoming resistance to DE&I initiatives. When done well, education and diversity training can:
Your hiring process is also crucial to building a more diverse workforce. As such, you need to make it as inclusive as possible.
Here are some ideas for how to do that:
In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to support employees while your workplace transitions to a more diverse operation. You can even utilize technology to give staff easy access to helpful resources.
For example, with enterprise resource planning software, you can collate all your helpful resources into a single platform, which is easily accessible to staff from all departments.
This kind of software can help to quickly answer employee questions on diversity topics and give them faster routes to the support or guidance they may need.
Things like unconscious bias flourish in silence. To promote an open, tolerant, and inclusive work culture, it’s important to encourage communication and feedback.
Let your employees know they should be open about any concerns or questions they have. Foster a culture of honest and tolerant discussion within your workplace.
All employees flourish with positive and constructive feedback, so encourage teams to celebrate each other and acknowledge work well done.
That said, don’t forget about the effects of unconscious bias when it comes to feedback and praise. These biases will lead to some team members receiving more recognition than others.
To help to mitigate against this, incorporate tools like workforce management software into the feedback process. HR tools like this will provide neutral data about how team members are performing and highlight those staff members who have been overlooked.
The best way to make choices that promote a more diverse business is to ensure representation in decision-making roles. This can give crucial insight and authenticity to your diversity decisions.
For example, if you’re trying to improve inclusivity for disabled employees, it makes sense to have decision-makers who understand the unique challenges they face.
Diversity and inclusivity are something to aspire to—but they’re not always easy to implement.
However, with openness, education, and the right tools and tech to support your initiatives, your company can be a part of building the open, diverse, and inclusive workplaces of the future.