Having employees from a wide variety of demographics and backgrounds helps improve process and product innovation. When different minds come together to work towards a common vision, the results are often astounding. Research shows that embracing diversity and inclusion is a valuable business strategy. Teams that perform in highly inclusive environments outperform their peers by nearly 80%.
However, in order to be able to maximize diversity benefits, it's very important for leaders, HR managers and employees to be aware of diversity issues which may arise so that these can be addressed and challenges can be overcome.
Here is a closer look at common diversity issues that if not properly managed can undermine the positive aspects and advantages of diverse work teams.
1.Lack of Acceptance and Respect
When there is a lack of acceptance of cultural differences, the result is usually uncivil behaviour. Conflicts start to arise and these very often translate into animosity and resentment. Teams may become divided along the lines of colour, age, language or ethnicity. Fostering a culture of respect and inclusion which is reinforced by regular training can overcome many of these difficulties
2.Collision of beliefs and attitudes
Everyone absorbs a set of beliefs and attitudes from family, friends and community. Differences in cultural, social or behavioural beliefs can lead to conflict in a diverse workplace. Cultural differences sometimes add yet another layer to core problems of personality conflicts or communication breakdowns.
Encourage your team to respect each other's beliefs and to keep their professional duties separate from their personal ideologies.
3.Ethnic and Cultural Differences
Managing ethnic and cultural differences often proves to be a challenge. Language, phraseology, non-verbal body language, mannerisms, greetings and personal space are all issues that mean different things to different people. Team members belonging to the majority group often assume others must simply adapt to their style of behaviour. When others display different norms and preferences those in the majority often display bias and prejudice. Diversity training can help increase awareness and open-mindedness regarding differences.
Conflict does not indicate failure unless it is poorly managed.
While conflict in the workplace is inevitable, conflicts that arise from diversity issues need special skills to address and resolve. Inclusive leadership promotes broad respect for everyone, values the opinions of each team member and creates a common team identity.
Inclusive leadership skills play a critical role in conflict resolution arising from diversity issues.
5.Language and Communication Barriers
Diverse workforces often have members whose first language may not be English. However, they may possess specialised skills in other areas such as computer know-how, industrial expertise or technical knowledge. You may wish to consider hiring bilingual staff or impart English language training for better communication.Symmetra offers leadership skills training online at all levels. Contact us today how we can help you address diversity challenges in your organisation. We reinforce inclusive as well as core leadership skills that result in improved interpersonal relationships and accelerated business success.