Chapter 12 (Managing Diversity)

Managing Diversity

Diversity: the range of traits a group of people have: gender, age, language. ethnicity, cultural background, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief.

Diversity also includes many differences people have in educational level, skill level, socio-economic background, personality, geographic location and family situation. With diversity managed in a workplace, it allows a business to draw on the largest pool of potential employees and it provides the widest possible range of talents, skills and ideas. Diversity can improve morale and loyalty and can lower the level of staff turnover. A diverse workforce can better understand and cater to the diverse community around it.

Details to be taken note of when working in a diverse and global environment:

  • personal style and how this may be perceived by others
  • the way people from different cultures expect to be managed
  • how one’s style will be viewed and the possibility that international colleagues or clients may feel confused and unsure about your actions.

Ways to use diversity in the workplace for business success:

  • expanding and forming new markets
  • using bilingual staff to provide client service in the first language of customers
  • advertising in community languages
  • employing professional bilingual staff for international business trips
  • developing translated information for service information and instructions to use.

Legal and ethical requirements

Diversity has to be managed in a positive way and this is a legal obligation of an employer. There are legislation that prohibit discrimination and encourage workplaces to be tolerant and to recognise the differences that exist in the workforce and give all people the opportunity to achieve to the best of their ability, below are a few:

  • Age Discrimination Act
  • Racial Discrimination Act
  • Racial Hatred Act
  • Disability Discrimination Act
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012

Managing diversity for business growth

To benefit from diversity, a culture in which all employees feel free to contribute ideas must be established. This will encourage all staff to share their ideas and opinions, give feedback and participate in decision making. Here are a few strategies:

  • Ensure everyone is heard
  • Make it safe to propose ideas
  • Give employees authority to make decisions
  • Share credit for success
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Implement feedback from staff

Managing diversity can create market opportunities. A diverse workforce reflects and better understands the diverse community and consumers in the marketplace. If there is at least one member of a team with traits in common with the target market, the entire team will understand the target market.

Having a diverse workforce and a workplace that is free from discrimination will decrease staff turnover and help build high employee satisfaction and loyalty. This may reduce the disruption and costs of staff turnover. Diversity in the workplace is necessary in order for a business to be competitive in a globalised world.