Workplace Diversity

Diverse Coffee – CC0 Public Domain
Diverse Coffee – CC0 Public Domain

Leaders must understand a variety of complicated and sophisticated components within their environments. One critical component is that of cultural sensitivity. Now, more than ever leaders must be sensitive and aware of not just the workplace culture but also how people of varying backgrounds interact with each other. Cultural sensitivity can help improve office morale as well as attract top talent who will contribute to a healthy workplace that is productive. Here are a few tips to improve workplace productivity.

Seek differences in perspective

Poor assumptions can lead to many conflicts in the workplace. A few factors that can shape perspectives are gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnic background and political opinions/beliefs. Whenever in doubt about a difference of opinion in the workplace ask the following questions (in your own words, of course) before responding:

  • How did you arrive at this conclusion?
  • Can you help educate me on this by directing me to the most recent literature?
  • Is there something that you think I need to know about this?

Don’t shy away from awkward conversations

At work it is tempting to ignore the cultural differences and focus on the bottom line or other established goals. However it is important to take time to have an honest conversation on the differences. Chances are this will result in new and fascinating opportunities. For example, while discussing your differences in culture you may discover there is a need that you can support in a different and unique way.

Celebrate everyone

As a leader it is your job to celebrate everyone especially those from different cultures while making sure they are part of the unified vision and mission of your organization. On a regular basis remind all of your employees about your core ethics values and morals. Celebrating the many different cultures ensures that no one is felt alienated or ignored.

The productive team of employees are those who will feel supported, appreciated and validated. Your role as a leader is to make sure that your organization knows this message: everyone’s voice is important and must be heard.

Employees who understand each other can resolve the differences quickly and focus on being productive members of the team. Good leaders should always keep the lines of communication open and understand all members of the organization.

-RG