Diversity at the workplace

December 14, 2015

Diversity at the workplace

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Success involves the interplay of unrelated factors. For instance, hard work and luck are not related, yet somehow they often come together to create success.

As workforce diversity becomes more common in organisations, managing people from different demographics and with different sets of expectations presents a bigger challenge for human resource managers.

Organisations are reforming their leadership and restructuring the system for rank-and-file workers to make them more inclusive and allow them to take advantage of global opportunities.

An exhaustive analysis of the workforce make-up of some of the major corporates in the US by global consultancy McKinsey and Company found that companies that make more profit than the national average are likely to have management structures that encourage diversity.

The findings, which were published in a report in January this year, also reflected how every 10 per cent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team raised earnings by 0.8 per cent.

Diverse workplaces are also able to attract, and more importantly, retain top-notch talent. High performers in any field are usually the ones who are more creative in their thought processes, and more innovative in problem-solving.

Every company’s management relishes the prospects of having such high-calibre individuals in their team, but often overestimate the importance of the salary package in the recruitment process.

Pay might be the main lure during recruitment, but it is only a point of departure. Individuals cannot realise their full potential in a dull working environment that does not value differences – be it of thought, age, gender, work style, or culture.

Very few people would be willing to work under a boss who is dominating, racist, sexist and intolerant. By integrating workers from diverse backgrounds into their workforce, organizations are likely to become better equipped to operate globally.

Here are some key advantages of workplace diversity:

1. Increased levels of creativity and problems solving: With people coming together from diverse backgrounds, there are more ways of looking at a situation or problem. Having many perspectives will help companies to get the best solution.

2. Increased productivity and efficiency: Productivity can increase dramatically when people from various cultures and nationalities focus on a single objective. The diversity of ideas also helps in finding the most efficient way of process management.

3. Global understanding and reach: Organisations that have a diverse workforce are able to use the knowledge of their staff to market their products to countries where these employees come from. Their language and local business skills are much needed in a globalised world.

4. Employer of choice: Having a diverse workforce makes your organisation more attractive to talents from around the world. An organisation with a good diversity program will be seen as having fair employment practices.

Along with organisational success and diversity, we also have to consider the importance of having high-performing teams. Here, are some of the key characteristics of high performing teams.

1. Common goal and purpose

The team should have a very clear sense of what it needs to achieve.

2. Clear roles and responsibilities

All team members would know exactly what they need to contribute as individuals, and also understand the roles and responsibilities of all the other members.

3. Competent leadership

The team should have a competent leader who understands performance management and people relations.

4. Effective processes

The organisation should have clear processes for every area employees are working on. This could include problem solving, task allocation, documentation and reporting.

5. Outstanding communication

Specific, timely and accurate communication is essential for a strong team performance. Organisations need to invest in the latest communication systems.

Contemporary human resource policies should strive to improve organisational output and its corporate image by breaking the established orders of cultural superiority, male domination and seniority.

In a world where millions of ideas are conceived every day, the challenge for managers is to make sure that the best ideas can be harnessed in order to gain global competitiveness.

Article contributed by Syed Shah, Senior Consultant of Training Edge International.

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