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For the last few years, transformation in the workplace has been a hot topic. In addition to inclusion and equal opportunities, diversity is a large part of the conversation. Take 2018’s Supersport case, where former commentator Ashwin Willemse walked off-air after alleged racial comments were made by his co-commentators. However, a recent article by Mining Review highlights that conflicts of the workplace don’t just span race but also generations, and they also include culture, technology, experience and approach, and global aspirations.
Basically, millennials want different things from a job than baby boomers and, in turn, the next generation will want different things as well. According to Fin24, 20% of leadership roles in South Africa are held by millennials – and a major issue for them is diversity and inclusion. ACCA, the global body for accountants, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Productivity SA also cite diversity as a large contributor to productivity.
So, whether you’re a millennial or not, it helps to understand why diversity in the workplace is important and how it adds value. We provide short courses that you can complete online that will help you in this regard. Here are five tips will guide you in building and managing a team that is diverse, as well as productive.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace encompass acceptance, respect, and teamwork, despite the differences between individuals, says This Way. As a manager, you should avoid assumptions about your employees, regardless of their background, age, or any other factor, and also encourage your employees to do the same. Instead, treat everyone as an individual, judging their performance by merit.
As outlined by Forbes, clear communication between departments and teams should be a priority for any workplace that aims to be diverse and inclusive. To ensure that all your employees are receiving information in a way that is understandable and does not discriminate, rework your policies, procedures, and other internal communications to help overcome language and cultural barriers. Make sure that you break down silos and encourage continuous cross-departmental collaboration.
Ideal defines diversity hiring as “hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure that procedures are free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics”. You need to analyse your current hiring process and outline the metrics that will make your company more diverse. This could mean increasing the number of female employees you have or increasing the number of qualified minorities in a specific department. Scrupulous, bias-free fairness is a must.
While hiring diverse individuals is great, the buck doesn’t stop there. In addition to treating each of your employees as individuals, you should also ensure that your standards for measuring performance are unbiased, so that any employment action you take follows a set list of criteria. The SA Board of People Practices (SABPP) suggests creating an environment where your employees feel recognised and appreciated by the business, and can speak comfortably to you and one another.
Once you’ve set your diversity goals and started implementing them, you also need to make sure that they aren’t just written down and forgotten. Start with encouraging employees from different backgrounds to mingle with each other. The Muse suggests trying to understand your employees, not just through their words but also their actions by picking up on cues and reading between the lines of what they say. As a manager, you can also try finding ways of incorporating different team members into various projects aligned with their skills and your organisation’s goals. Regular culture-sharing sessions, sensitivity training, and workshops can also help everyone to understand one another.
At SGI, we are passionate about transformation and want to help you build your own diverse team. Which is why we offer Lord of the dance – a short microlearning online course that focuses on knowledge and understanding of diversity in the workplace – how diversity adds value, how to manage a team of diverse employees, and how to manage disagreements and conflicts that arise from diversity.
Contact us for any more information you may need regarding our short online courses.