In another article, we discussed how should we see diversity in order to achieve a better future of the workplace. Let's forget all the hype, in this new writing, we want to discuss the potential risks it could bring. 

1. Communication 

When it comes to diversity in a workplace, the most mentioned challenge is always communication. Working in a diverse environment helps employees to lower the barriers to communicating with different cultures and personalities in the long run. However, it also creates a huge risk of unsolvable conflicts due to differences in thinking and communication styles between employees.

Effective communication in workplace has always been a challenge for a diverse team

Effective communication in workplace has always been a challenge for a diverse team

2. Management

Many times diversity implementation went wrong because of misunderstanding from the management level of the organization. Diversity management is more than simply acknowledging differences in people and celebrating those differences. It involves the activities of turning those differences into competitive advantages by successful talent planning, recruitment, and assessment.

3. Negative attitude and behavior

Every workplace has people who resist diversity and the changes it brings, often because of the unknown risks that could arise. The resistance can be identified by negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace including prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. These negative attitudes can damage morale and work productivity. Furthermore, it could harm working relationship and become a barrier to positive changes.

Resistance to diversity can be identified by the negative attitude and behaviour of employees

Resistance to diversity can be identified by the negative attitude and behaviour of employees

4. Learning and development

An effective training program is a solution to tackle the challenges of the diverse workforce that were recommended by many HR experts. However, without careful planning, your training programs may bring more harms than you think. When the training is not tailored to the organizational structure and culture, employees could feel disengage in the program and many will simply see it as a waste of time. 

 

Overcome the challenges

As said in the previous article, implementing diversity could be harder than you think. It’s a process that requires organizations to have a deep level of understanding of all its employees. It starts from their way of thinking and their logic of behavior, which requires a scientific approach of neuroscience, psychology, and technology. Besides that, the entire organization needs to understand fully what diversity truly is about and take efforts to practice it from the inside and outside the HR department. Even though there is no set formula for success, there are some steps that we recommend to try.

1. Understand the needs

This is also the first step in Kotte’s 8-steps change model: Create Urgency. Open an honest and convincing dialogue about what's happening in the organization itself and what could be better. If many people start talking about diversity as a change that brings positive results, the urgency can build and feed on itself.
Here are some things that you can do: 

  • Identify potential threats, and develop scenarios showing what could happen in the future.
  • Examine opportunities that could be exploited by bringing in a diverse workplace. 
  • Start honest discussions, and give dynamic and convincing reasons to get people talking and thinking.
  • Request support from employees, benchmark examples of successful organizations with a diverse workforce to strengthen your argument.
For any change management strategy, the first step is always establishing a sense of urgency

For any change management strategy, the first step is always establishing a sense of urgency

2. Bringing in the inclusiveness

As mentioned before, a successful implementation of diverse workforce needs to start from outside of the HR department. Employees are the most important part of your diverse workforce and they are the most difficult to convince. By practicing inclusiveness in everyday working life, you are eliminating the fear and the resistance of your people to welcome the new changes that a diverse workforce would bring. 
Some easy activities to start with: 

  • Showcase and appreciate the current diversity in the organization (both geographical diversity and the diversity of thought) 
  • Make inclusiveness one part of your brand identity: open to constructive feedback and discussion, involve your employees in decision making and planning. 

3. Learning and development

An effective learning and development program is the right solution to foster the attitude of openness in your organization. However, training and development need to reflect the level of diversity inside the organization and the optimistic goal for its development. The training programme itself should be adjusted to the background of attendees and make sure attendees can see the differences in others' thinking and judgements. 

In the next article we will continue with the creation of a corporate education plan for your diverse workplace.

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