Best Practices for Workplace Diversity

Best Practices for Workplace DiversityDiversity in the workplace seems like a long and winding road. It has been 51 years since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and workplaces are still not largely representative of our increasingly diverse population. In addition, during that time, additional groups of people have been added to the “protected classes” ­  those who are protected from discrimination ­ such as persons with disabilities.

Employers must first be vigilant in their efforts to ensure that their doors swing open for potential employees from all segments of society. Diversity will never be achieved if this is not the case.

The problem for employers in maintaining diversity, however, goes beyond hiring practices. It  usually lies in the culture of the organization. Human resource personnel in an organization can use the bully pulpit, so to speak, to force managers to hire persons of color or different ethnic origins, but if the new employees do not feel welcome, their stay will likely be brief.

Five areas for proactivity in the quest for diversity are the following:

  1. Diversity policy;
  2. Valuing originality;
  3. Valuing differences of opinion or thought;
  4. Valuing informal networks; and
  5. Recognizing unconscious bias.

It is important for an organization to have stated in writing the policy it intends managers and employees to follow regarding achieving and maintaining diversity. If there is no guiding light, there will be no consistent effort.

For employees to feel welcome and valued, they should feel comfortable being who they are at work. People who feel stifled do not make good employees and are likely to be looking for another job. It is a human tendency to be intolerant of others who are different, and employers need to build a culture that discourages intolerance.

Valuing and respecting differences of opinion and thought speaks to more than just diversity. Some managers like to surround themselves with employees who only agree with them. This is an unproductive method of operation, and it can be more pronounced when employees who are different by gender, race, disability, or other attributes are ignored.

Informal networks tend to exist in any organization. They usually form along lines of similarity; birds of feather flock together, as the saying goes. The stronger the tendency of an organization to marginalize those who are different, the stronger the tendency for informal networks to exist. Embracing the networks can be a good strategy for inclusion.

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving diversity is unconscious bias. Many people truly believe that they hold no biases against people who are different from them, but they do in their subconscious minds. Training is the best way that an organization can help employees, both in the majority and the minority, to recognize the possibility and likelihood of unconscious bias working in the background of their thoughts and actions.

Managing human resources in the workplace is a continuous challenge for employers, and the pursuit of diversity is one of the more difficult goals to reach. The different personalities, backgrounds, and temperaments of people all come into play, but with genuine effort starting at the top of the organization, progress can be made.

Contact us today to speak with an experienced discrimination law attorney in Sacramento.

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Labor Law Office, APC

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2017-12-13T21:46:37+00:00 September 2nd, 2015|Discimination, General Labor Law|