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Focusing on Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity, like a changing technology or a global economy, is a business reality. The trends, the changes in technology and global competition require adaptations and have implications for organizational effectiveness and competitiveness. Diversity is no different. Consequently, to understand how effective management of a diverse workforce, it is critical for organizations that seek to improve and maintain their competitive advantage.

Focusing on diversity and looking for practices to create an inclusive organization—one that makes absolute use of the contributions of all employees—will generate increased productivity. As such, diversity training is a critical component of the present and future success and growth of an organization's business strategy. Diversity training discusses the topic of and need for diversity among colleagues and client relations. Diversity training can also aid in the recruitment of a diverse employee and client bases by addressing ways to further diversify products, plans and practices.

When a company or organization decides to implement diversity training into its workplace culture, it is imperative that companies take proactive steps to ensure that diversity initiatives are seen as opportunities to improve the overall productivity of the company and its employees in a bias-free, diverse workplace. Fundamental to the success of diversity training and education is the inclusion and participation of all employees in the diversity training process. It is important to recognize that certain individuals or groups within an organization may be resistant to change because they perceive a diversity initiative as a direct threat to their status and power. The following four steps can be incorporated into the initial discussion when diversity training is first broached:

  1. Education and Training: Employers must communicate clearly to their employees the expectations about appropriate workplace conduct that supports policies and values statements.
  2. Exposure: Structuring work teams or task forces so they are ethnically, racially and gender balanced will aid employees in dismantling stereotypes and assumptions.
  3. Accountability: Managers who effectively supervise a diverse employee pool and client base should be recognized for their achievements. Employees who work well with people of varying backgrounds should be rewarded in their job performance evaluations.
  4. Intervention by top management: Commitment to diversity must be clearly demonstrated at the highest levels of the company.

Managing diversity requires the use of several sets of skills: communication, cross-cultural competency, critical thinking, conflict management and problem solving. Cultural diversity training also includes developing the capacity to identify and empathize with the beliefs, values and mores of others. The implementation of a diversity management-training program incorporates these skills and an educational component that allows participants to address issues of prejudice, discrimination and biased behaviors that could impact employee and client relations.

When preparing to discuss the need for diversity training in your organization, it can be helpful to address the following questions:

  • What are the demographics of your customers/client base?
  • How many languages are spoken by your customers/clients?
  • In how many countries does your organization operate?
  • How much does employee turnover cost your company?
  • How much does your company spend annually on recruitment?
  • How much have discrimination/harassment suits cost your organization in the past year?
  • How frequently does inter-group conflict areas?
  • Is there a high level of turnover among certain employee groups?
  • Are your policies and benefits attractive to potential diverse recruits?
  • Is your organization losing top talent because people do not feel valued, included or heard?

Diversity is a training ground that requires hard work, commitment to business ideals, and an ability to learn how to handle change by adapting to new situations and learn from people who are different from us. Because change is the only certainty ahead, making adaptations required by diversity keeps an organization flexible and well developed. Strengthening the ability to respond to changing environments and demands is a strategic business imperative that is critical to ensuring organizational viability.

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Over 265,000 adult workers employed in more than 265 corporations, government agencies or small businesses in the public and private sectors have participated in A WORKPLACE OF DIFFERENCE®

Highlights

  • Training programs are customized
  • Increase camaraderie, initiative and morale
  • Stimulate effective team builidng

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