On any given day you can pick up a newspaper and find stories about people's negative actions that were motivated by the biases and differences between individuals and groups. These include acts of terrorism, protests, hate speech, and unfair dismissals. So many people are unwilling to cooperate with others that have a different view or belief.
However, the one place where cooperation is a must is in the workplace.
The problem is that the effects of diversity training can fade over time. This is why it's important to implement diversity exercises for the workplace, alongside the base training. It amplifies the effects of the training, making them last over time.
Effective diversity training will be more successful when it focuses on building skills for interacting in the workplace, as well as building awareness of bias.
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What Are The Types Of Diversity In The Workplace?
There are many forms that workplace diversity can take:
- Personal Life Experiences
- Thinking Styles
- Social Status and Backgrounds
- Disability and Ability
- Religious and Spiritual Beliefs
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender and Gender Identity
- Age and Generation
- Race and Ethnicity
With so many forms of diversity and division, those who are in charge of the workplace need to take responsibility for giving opportunities to employees to work together, which builds a sense of inclusion in the workplace.
Diversity Management Training
Promoting diversity in the workplace begins with leaders in the workplace. Its something that presents a unique challenge, but it's a challenge that can be overcome by promoting things like open communication, cultural tolerance, and strategies for conflict management.
However, in order to do this, managers need to understand what makes a person who they are.
There are a number of online diversity and inclusion training courses that can be taken that will teach managers the necessary skills and understanding of diversity that will help them build a better workplace environment. A better workplace environment means a productive and successful business. So it's in any companies best interest to train managers and employees alike in diversity and acceptance.
Managing Workplace Diversity
There are some simple steps that can be taken to help in promoting diversity in the workplace.
Treating Every Employee as an Individual
One problem you see in many workplace environments are people making assumptions about others that are from a different background. One of the skills of diversity training in the workplace is learning how to see each employee as an individual. Their success and failures should be judged on each person's merit, not based on their overall background.
Communication is key to managing diversity in the workplace. There should be effective communication with employees regarding procedures, policies, safety, and any other important aspect of the workplace. This communication needs to be designed so it overcomes cultural and language barriers. Some ways this can be done is by having reading material translated, or using symbols and pictures when needed.
Encouraging Collaboration in Diverse Groups
Putting together a team of diverse employees brings an opportunity for them to get to know each other on a one to one basis. This can help eradicate any cultural misunderstandings and preconceived ideas.
It's also important to recognize, as well as encourage employees to recognize, that a person's own background, experience, and culture are not the only valuable things in the workplace. Looking for ways to incorporate a more diverse range of talents and perspectives will help an organization to achieve its goals.
Make a Base Standard
There should be one set standard of rules for all of your employees regardless of what their background is. By making sure that all actions, including discipline, follows a set of standard criteria will ensure that all employees are treated equally.
Some Practical Diversity Exercises for the Workplace
Aside from having employees learn diversity training in the workplace, there are some exercises that can be practiced that will ensure training doesn't fade over time. It also helps to include any new employees who may not have had this training.
Learn What Makes an Employee Who They Are
Everyone's experiences shape the person they are today. Providing a safe environment for learning about each employee’s background, as a group, gives your employees the opportunity to learn new things about their co-workers. It will help to raise empathy and create better bonds.
- Give each person 3 squares of paper or post-its. Have your group think about two or three moments in their lives that defined who they are now and write them down.
- Let each person show these moments to the group and share the story behind it (whatever degree they feel comfortable to share).
- Be sure to thank them for sharing these things and then have them tell the group what they feel they have taken away from this exercise.
Your employees are human beings and all have experiences and lives away from the workplace. These things can impact how they perform at work. For example, if you have a group meeting and have someone who seems to not be participating, it may be because of something they are experiencing outside of work.
One thing that you can do before a meeting begins is to start a conversation that helps set a tone of openness. It will also give your employees a few minutes to think about how they are feeling.
- Start off by going around the group and asking “If you knew me well, you would know that...”
- Let your employees share their feelings, no matter how simple or complex they are. They may feel stressed because they were running late that morning, or troubled because of a family crisis. This helps bring empathy to the forefront of the group and lets employees know that you care.
In any diverse group, there are going to be stereotypes and misconceptions about others. This exercise tackles stereotypes head-on and allows each person to explain how they identify themselves, as well as talk about any stereotypes associated with it.
- Give each person a folded sheet of paper so they have 2 columns.
- In one column they should write “I Am”, and in the other column “I Am Not”.
- Between the 2 columns have them write “But”.
- Each person needs to fill in the first blank with a common identifier, like their religion or race. In the second column they will write down a stereotype that is commonly linked to this, however, is not true about themselves.
- It's ideal that they have 5 of these statements that they will then share with the group. This promotes a respectful and open conversation.
These are just a few of the many exercises for diversity training in the workplace. The exercises you choose to use will depend on whatever diversity issue you are having.
Promoting diversity in the workplace will ensure that employee’s feel included and empowered, which goes a long way in creating great teamwork for your organization.
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