Diversity behind the desk
Diversity awareness is one of today’s buzz words. It is all about having an eye for the individual differences and behavior of our employees. The people we have hired will inevitably have different backgrounds, be it cultural, religious, political, ideological or sexual. Rather than dismissing differences as abnormal or inappropriate, an organization should welcome them.
Awareness of, and respect for, different backgrounds matters to our employees and clients. It improves the relationship and hence the atmosphere and it also expands the pool of knowledge, even in small companies. Our employees can tell us things about places we have never seen, rituals we never noticed and values we have never imagined.
Differences help us to appreciate that others are ‘not like us’. They encourage us to cease complaining and to broaden our horizons. Differences among workers may strengthen the bond with customers since the world outside is just as diverse. The receptionist with Italian roots will touch common ground with Italian speaking clients. The Muslim bookkeeper understands the Arabian customer. Diversity in a company makes it easier to serve a broader range of clients.
But successfully managing differences can be a challenge. Are our employees accepting people with different sexual orientation or do we sense hostility? Is the Muslim female colleague, clad in black, and leaving periodically for prayers treated on a par with the other females? And, what about our own prejudices, perhaps never verbalised?
If the answers to these questions aren’t satisfactory, we will have to invest in diversity awareness training as well as team building before diversity behind the desk will bear its many fruits.
Do you leverage your diverse workforce?