Once you make the decision to promote and support diversity in your workplace, there are immediate actions you must take to prove your commitment. While the qualities of a truly diverse workplace take years to fully develop in most businesses, the following 3 steps will get you started on the pathway to inclusion and teamwork.
Evaluate and adjust work spaces to accommodate all.
Diversity can relate to outward differences, but it also relates to qualities we don't see on the surface. One vital way that people differ is in the type of work environment that they prefer for top productivity
Query your staff, either through surveys or meetings, about their satisfaction with their work spaces. Do they have enough lighting, comfortable seating, and space for materials? Do they need more privacy or do they feel isolated from the team? Is a noisy environment distracting or energizing? Once you determine the changes your staff needs, you will create a better work environment for all.
When discussing updates to your work areas, be sure to talk about seasonal issues such as heating and cooling and window lighting. Staff with disabilities or long-term illnesses may need special accommodations, as will those who need additional lighting or space to perform their jobs well. If parents sometimes bring children along for short work visits, consider creating a family area where kids may hang out while waiting.
Experiment with flexible scheduling.
If you have staff who have feast-or-famine type duties, let them come in during their actual busy times and keep the slow times to themselves. For example, one staff member may have a rush of work between 10am and 3pm. Why force that employee to show up at 8am like everyone else?
If that employee cares for an elderly relative or young child, they'll appreciate the extra morning hours to attend to their dependents, and students will enjoy the extra study time.
This may mean an adjustment in pay, if the employee desires to reduce hours and salary. However, if your employee can produce the same or an increased amount of work as before the switch to flex-time, they retain their value to your company and you should not reduce their wages if you want to keep them.
Offer ongoing communication training.
Humans are raised in all sorts of environments with all sorts of family prejudices. The fact is, each individual arrives at the workplace with their own set of values and judgments of others.
Accept that this will always be a challenge in any workplace and become proactive. Ensure that every team member attends communication training to increase awareness among your staff.
Diversity "best practices" classes should cover conflict resolution, team building, and listening skills. Diversity training should include role playing and ample discussions of the best methods to increase inclusion and openness in your unique business environment.
By setting the diversity gears in motion with these 3 steps, you begin the process of turning your enterprise into a successful, savvy, and superior place to do business.