Payroll, Here Are Your Articles for Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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Fostering Diversity in an Office


A diverse talent pool offers the best odds for hiring the right person for each position. What are some of the challenges in putting together diverse teams?

  • Minority groups may feel undervalued and not speak up as much.
  • Majority groups may feel alienated by efforts to enhance diversity.
  • Cultural conflicts may distract teams from working on company problems.
  • Team members may create cliques in opposition to the openness you're trying to achieve.

How can you and your group leaders:

  • Steer teams in the right direction?
  • Make all members feel equally valued?
  • Facilitate collaboration among team members?
  • Lead by example?

While fostering and improving team cohesion:

  • Understand that diversity goes beyond gender, race and religion to include age, disability, language, personality and sexual orientation.
  • Foster cross-cultural competence so team members understand and work with people from many cultures for an inclusive workplace.
  • Understand that diversity can spark team conflict. Differences in ages and socioeconomic backgrounds may undermine open discussion and team spirit. It's the manager's responsibility to ensure that no one is left out by helping members work together.
  • Be conscious of your own prejudices.
    • Your assumptions may be based on stereotypes and biases.
    • Take Harvard's Implicit Association Test to see if you have unconscious preferences for a specific race, gender, religion or other group.
    • Evaluate the criteria used in making decisions on hiring, promoting and rewarding team members. Are they job related and verified by data?
  • Be alert for inappropriate behaviors. Casual comments and simple teasing may make others uncomfortable. Microaggressions are unintentional slights of minority groups that are perceived as offensive, and they damage relationships and undermine a respectful and harassment-free workplace.
  • Try using blind hiring platforms, which garble or censor applicants' names and information. You can bypass some of your unconscious biases if you don't know and can't guess the applicant's age, race or gender.
  • Don't treat equality as uniformity. Some employees need different treatment.
    • If you take the team out to lunch, choose a place where vegetarian or Muslim employees can find something to eat.
    • Older employees may want some coaching on newer technologies.
    • Workers from another country may want support to adapt to new cultural norms.
  • Build reward systems to cover all team members' needs; people are motivated by different things.
    • Some may be incentivized by money, others by greater autonomy.
    • Some want to boost promotion chances; others want awards and recognition.
  • Coach the team in conflict management techniques. Conflict is unavoidable.
    • Disagreements can breed innovation and positive change.
    • Encourage all to speak up and share concerns daily.
    • Communication training is vital — encourage the team to talk about problems and ideas.
  • Give feedback to explain decisions.
    • Team members need to know what they're doing right and what they can improve.
    • Be clear that objective criteria are used for promotions, salary increases and other rewards so that employees see your decisions aren't based on personal biases.
    • Work to spot your own unconscious biases.
    • Foster collaboration between colleagues from different backgrounds. When co-workers know each other better, prejudices recede; team members see each other as individuals rather than members of diverse groups.
      • Team up members with cultural, educational and other differences for small projects.
      • Get teams to collaborate with other teams to build cross-cultural competence.

Knowing that the office offers equal access to opportunities and resources makes office diversity work so that everyone can contribute to the company's success.

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