Top 10 Diversity Issues at Work

Promoting diversity

Having workplace diversity is not about simply meeting a quota for employing people of different races, cultures, and genders. The real importance lies in harnessing the diverse skills, talents, and perspectives that your employees bring to the table.

A diverse workplace is one that encourages all employees to be themselves, and allows them to feel comfortable in doing so.

However, diversity isn’t always a benefit to a company. In fact, there are several diversity issues that are prevalent in today’s corporate world. Let’s take a look at a few:

1) Communication

You may find yourself dealing with an employee whose first language is not English. In such cases, miscommunication can occur, and this can be problematic, especially when it comes to making key business decisions.

Instructions might get lost in translation, leading to confusion and delays in work processes.

2) Opposition to Change

Having diversity at work benefits business as a whole, but individual employees may be opposed to making adjustments to what they are used to. When you are making certain changes, whether it is the office location or new policies, some workers will be reluctant to adapt.

By implementing diversity training as a business initiative, you can remove any fears that employees may have about change and make the workplace more welcoming.

3) Insensitivity

Even today, you will find some workers who tend to disregard the thoughts and feelings of their colleagues. Snide comments and insensitive jokes are unfortunately quite commonplace, and often create hostilities in the work environment.

Sometimes, employees are even inconsiderate enough to make fun of disabled coworkers, which is unacceptable and something that management needs to stop.

4) Implementation

Coming up with diversity policies and putting them in place is easy enough, but ensuring that your employees follow these rules is a new challenge in itself.

It is sometimes difficult to get people from different groups to work together, so you need to be vigilant and ensure that the rules and policies are followed.

5) Gender-Bias

The age-old ‘men vs. women’ dilemma is still prevalent in today’s corporate world as well, and occurs in most organizations where there is a gender disparity in key positions.

There is another group of people that often find themselves being discriminated against in the corporate world – the LGBT community. These individuals still struggle to be accepted by their peers, though tolerance has improved in recent years.

6) Harassment

Even if you find no evidence of outright harassment, always be on the lookout for quiet insults or subtle forms of discrimination. Comments such as “We should have hired a man”, or “Asian people always work like this”, are discriminatory, and can put employees in a very uncomfortable position.

7) Culture Clashes

People from different cultures often have their own ways of working, and these preferred styles can sometimes clash.

For example, many American employees like to work on their own and have independence when performing tasks. Japanese workers, on the other hand, would prefer collaboration and working in teams. Of course these are generalizations, but different groups often do have different styles, and this is something to be aware of.

8) Hiring Biases

Sometimes, diversity issues can arise at the time of hiring when the unconscious biases of hiring managers come into play. Without even realizing it, interviewers might discriminate against certain individuals due to their background or the way they look. Since most of these biases are unconscious, it’s difficult to identify when they occur, and your company may be missing out on some talented employees as a result.

9) Minority Support

Many companies choose to support minority groups by offering them better terms or making special reservations for their employment.

While this could help a particular group of individuals, these initiatives may cause discontentment among the other employees in your company who think that you are showing preferential treatment to a specific community.

10) Generation Gaps

The generation gap between your employees can sometimes cause difficulties in day-to-day activities. Older workers tend to be more disciplined and traditional, while millennials prefer flexibility in their working hours. The different expectations can cause conflict between these two key sections of the workforce.

These are just a few of the issues faced by companies which are striving for diversity. To truly harness the benefits that diversity brings to a firm, employers must first deal with these minor issues and learn to overcome them so that everyone can collaborate and grow together. This will require some time and resources, such as providing diversity training for all employees, but the return on investment is worth the effort.