The world has become one shrunken globe. Thanks to globalization, further advancements in technology and of course the Pandemic. As a matter of fact, Covid has changed the way we work, how we manage to work from home and work at home juggling all the roles with elan. Today, people are more connected and technology has been deeply embedded in our lives like never before.
As the economy becomes progressively global, our workforce and workplaces too have turned diverse. Workplace diversity is defined as the differences between people in an organization that encompasses factors such as age, gender, nationality, culture, race, ethnic group, education and more.
Diversity at Workplaces and Organisations
Diversity will only increase significantly in the coming years. According to a Glassdoor report, a whopping 67% of job seekers say that when evaluating companies, it is important to them that the organization has a diverse workforce. Companies like Accenture, Johnson and Johnson, Mastercard and Coca Cola practice inclusion while hiring talented and skilled individuals.???
Diversity involves both sides of the coin: How people perceive themselves, as well as how they perceive others around them. Organizations employing a diverse workforce have an upper hand while providing service as they can cater to an array of customers. They can be more global and diverse in their approach as they have the right set of resources (diverse backgrounds, cultures, languages and individual talents) to meet different customer demands.
Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace boost the morale of their employees to perform to their highest potential thereby witnessing higher productivity and return on investment.
Common Challenges Faced While Hiring a Diverse Workforce
Despite having a strong belief in inclusiveness and the innumerable benefits a diverse workforce offers, there are a few challenges that the companies need to supersede. They are:
Resistance to change:
No matter how hard a manager tries sometimes, there might always be employees who will be obstinate, refuse to embrace change and connect to the idea that ‘differences are good’. A lot of employees fail to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is evolving for good. Sticking to older opinions and beaten beliefs stifles new ideas and the growth of an organization. Adapt and evolve is the mantra for an organization?s success.
Stereotypes and prejudice:
There is always an employee/s who would fail to see through the lens of inclusiveness. Preconceived notions against a certain community, holding grudges against a religion, looking down on a certain race or minority or religion. This would lead to disjointed teams and lead to poor productivity, impact employee satisfaction and also affect the organizational culture of the workplace.
On the other hand, people from minority groups could feel that they are treated unjustly compared to their majority counterparts. They might also feel that the manager is more inclined towards people with a similar background. Hence, while hiring a diverse workforce, the organisation would also have to consider hiring for team members having an open mind, empathy, cultural sensitivity and strong interpersonal skills.
Communication Skills is one of the 4C’s of the 21st century. It plays and has always played a pivotal role when it comes to hiring. Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstanding, confusion, poor teamwork and low morale.
Hiring a diverse workforce comes with a bagful of goodies for example, more ideas, fresher perspectives, unique points of view, unique talents and skills, innovations and approaches to problem-solving. But it can be a doubled edged sword if not handled properly. It can also cause frictions and escalate conflicts due to failure in comprehending or understanding, interpreting things differently as one belongs to a different culture, barriers of language, use of certain gestures might be offensive to someone without one even realising it.
The Covid 19 has opened Pandora’s box. And unfortunately, it is still going to stay in our lives for a little longer. To look at the slightly brighter side of things, it has also been a blessing in disguise for a lot of the workforce that was otherwise not able to engage in work due to familial commitments. The word ‘work-from-home has been added to our collective Urban dictionaries and has bought together the workforce like never before. It has dawned upon us that there are a lot of jobs that can be done from home saving us expensive fares, transportation costs and precious travelling time. For a lot of women and even men out there, balancing work and home which looked like a farfetched dream a year and a half ago has now turned into a zone of achieving personal and professional enlightenment.
Vikas Gupta, an Educationist, Counsellor and Principal of a repeated school has some interesting observations. He talks about the reverse in gender roles in the new millennials (those born after 1998). “Traditionally, it was the male bastion of the workforce that ran after strong roles, chased targets and sweated it out in the fields. Post the Covid menace, a lot of males are seeking office-based jobs demanding state-of-the-art workspaces, monetary benefits and an enviable work culture to flaunt. Interestingly, many females are more willing to travel for work, are taking challenges in their stride and are showing far more dedication than their male counterparts when it comes to experimenting with work roles.”
Overcoming the Challenges?
It is time for organizations to take active action and show the willingness to spend resources on hiring and managing diversity in the workplace now. Organizations that do not include diversity in their workforce or worse fail to see the need to make it a part of their recruitment process might perish in the long run.
The process however inevitable and cumbersome, here’s how your organization can work towards enabling an inclusive and ‘culture fit’ working environment.
1.?Assessment of Diversity:?
The best companies make assessment and evaluation an integral part of their diversity process. Psychometric Tests for evaluating personality factors such as Big 5 or 16 PF, Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ), DISC, MBTI etc can be utilized while recruiting or as a part of diversity assessment. Tests for evaluating factors such as Motivation and job satisfaction can pay off, in the long run, to run the process smoothly and efficiently. It can help the management team determine challenges and obstacles to diversity and the interventions that could be implemented or eliminated.
2.?Cultivate a Culture of Embracing Cultures:???
In a diverse workplace, each person has a unique set of strengths and skills. Hence, the organization should embrace the significant cultures and experiences unique to each employee. Different perspectives and ideas bring variety to the table and combat monotony. Companies need to go that extra mile to understand the values and the mental make-up a person’s culture contributes to their personality.
Equal opportunities, fair chances, and openness to communicate and clarify misunderstandings and nurturing empathy will build a fertile ground for great work culture.
3.?Diversity in Detail:??
Diversity training alone will not be of much help while formulating an organization’s diversity management plan. An organization should ensure that a culture of diversity penetrates every department of the organization and is in tandem with its vision and mission statement.
Heena Virani, a Psychologist and a Career Counsellor puts it across very well, “Due to the changing landscape of work, it’s important to accept culture add and culture fair formulae. This will add fresher perspectives, accommodate wider opinions and give an identity diversity to the organization. Last but certainly not the least, it will give a technological boost to the company, ensure quality control and give an impetuous to productivity at large.”
4. Investing in Emotional Quotient:???
HR managers should actively identify any kind of bias in the team. Whether the bias is conscious or unconscious, handling the situation with tact, empathy, sensitivity and good leadership will ensure that every member is cherished and valued by the organization.
HR Managers and key leaders need to integrate two of the 4C’s of the 21st century: Communication and Collaboration along with adaptability to maximize the effects of diversity in the workplace. Times are changing and those who go with the wind fill soar.
With 10 years of experience in operations and training, Parth is a go-to person for his team and even a multitude of growing start-ups. His knack lies at spotting and supporting start-ups, helping them streamline their processes and even take their ventures to the next level. After successfully establishing two start-ups and exploring the start-up landscape up-close Parth has learnt the nitty-gritty of the industry, which he now shares with fellow entrepreneurs.