I see diversity in the workplace as completely positive. There is no doubt that people are different, but we all need to learn about each other. The world is becoming smaller and by that I mean everywhere is becoming much more multicultural. Mixed raced marriages are on the rise and we continue to debate gay marriages and of course the Immigration debate, all in all its my belief we live in the most diverse environment ever. I personally think that we all have something to learn from one another and embrace diversity.
There are many positives of having a diverse workforce. One of the big advantages of having a diverse workforce is a difference in perspective, different types of people see things in different ways. I am a big believer that there are always multiple ways to look at any situation usually at least three. The point being that someone from a different background may see a situation in a unique way which could end up being paramount in solving a given problem. A diverse workforce can often help a business enter a whole new market. If there is a employee who speaks a certain language the business may be able greatly benefit. A Chinese employee may be able to help a company enter the Asian marketplace or gain Asian investment. Having a diverse workforce sends out a positive message. A company that has equal opportunities for all sorts of people gives out good vibes and other companies are more likely to be interested in forming a business partnership. On top of this a diverse workforce can also help a company extend there customer base. Customers sometimes will look for companies that they can relate best to or stand for similar things that they themselves do. This information is shown in a number of ways such as mission and vision statements, what they are doing in the local community, how they feel about certain issues and what other companies they have a relationship with. They can also do it by the kind of employees they employ. An African American customer may feel more comfortable purchasing products from a company that has a number of African American employees. Another big bonus of a diverse workforce may be for a employee to communicate with a customers in another language.
The major challenges of hiring a diverse workforce include cultural issues, religion and language. Language can always be a difficult one do you require that they speak English in the workplace. Should you allow your group of Spanish employees to speak Spanish to each other. These questions are all potential problems of hiring a diverse workforce. When hiring a diverse workforce its likely that there would be a range of different religions, so its important how someone religion may interfere with there Job. Some religions require multiple praying sessions per day or fasting. Its important to realize all these factors and ensure employees don’t feel discriminated against. Its important that a policy of a company doesn’t infringe on an individual cultural or customs. There is always the argument that anyone in your country should react and act like you, but you don’t want to offend anyone. Another potential situation would be if you employ a large amount of Jews what to do around Christmas. Many companies have a Christmas party but since Jews don’t celebrate Christmas is this entirely appropriate and it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate to have a party that was mandatory. One way around this to rename it as an end of year party instead with no relationship to Christmas. With the best of intentions you can not control the thoughts and opinions of your entire workforce. As the manager you may have the best of intentions but unfortunately there may be a level of racism and discrimination amongst employees. Even worst than that is uneducated members of the workforce may feel that an African American workers are not as good or a Spanish employee is not a good worker. It is hoped that you wouldn’t have employees with such false opinions, but it can happen even with the best of intentions.
Overall I think diversity in the workplace is a positive thing and many of the most successful companies have a diverse workforce. There may be challenges to make it work, but the benefits will be wonderful. Also a company who can make it work will be very highly regarded and respected. Bringing people from different backgrounds together will enrich our lives as well as workplaces.