When we think of diversity, many of us tend to think about physical characteristics. However, workplace diversity entails much more than that and for good reason. In a working environment, each employee brings their own unique personality and work ethics to an organization. An article published in HV MFG’s Fall 2016 issue, highlights the benefits to hiring a diverse workforce. First, bringing different mindsets into a company can help challenge the status quo and use critical thinking to create new ideas. This is becoming increasingly important within the sector of manufacturing as competition continues to grow both domestically and internationally.
In order for a diverse workforce to be truly advantageous to a company, certain steps first need to be met. For example, the organization must be committed to hearing new ideas and accepting criticism when necessary. Having a “it’s always been like this” attitude not only silences the voices of others, but it can lead to stagnation in company growth. In addition, the company culture needs to be open to change, otherwise new employees may start to conform for fear of not being accepted.
To ensure those steps are met, first management endorsement is key for current employees to embrace change rather than fear it. If the management level of an organization is not thrilled about new ideas, no one will be. Interestingly, research has shown that holding numerous diversity training workshops might not be as effective as people think. Often times, individuals will forget most of the information given during the training sessions and it might spark backlash. Instead, focusing on eliminating bias opportunities has a more positive impact. For example, having supervisors objectively evaluate each employee to see who deserves a promotion rather than going with a gut instinct or a supervisor’s personal feelings.
Another important step is to avoid blaming individuals and lecturing employees, this will only cause problems to worsen. Rather, supervisors should rotate employees around to different departments. This not only allows the employee to meet new people, but also helps train them in various skills that could be used in the future. Finally, a workplace should embrace conflict and instead re-frame it as an opportunity to learn. Change can be daunting at times; however, it is necessary in our fast-paced and globalized world. A diverse workforce exposes people to new ideas and fosters growth; all important attributes in the modern-day manufacturing industry.
The full article on Workplace Diversity on HV MFG’s Magazine can be found here.