Workplace diversity is as positive or negative an issue as any leader or organization makes it. Diversity can be a powerful tool to bring people together and use the talents and knowledge of your employees or it can generate fear and mistrust.
I tend to focus on workplace behaviors that produce positive results and create productive work environments. Let’s look at what might happen in a workplace if diversity is a negative.
- Employees view each other as different.
- People don’t trust each other.
- Some people are treated differently than others.
- New ideas may not be welcome.
- Leadership does not reflect the workforce.
- Differences are viewed as negative.
- Individuality is discouraged.
- Diversity isn’t discussed.
- Differences are viewed as a threat.
- Resistance to change.
- There are exclusionary groups or cliques.
What might happen if you view diversity as a positive factor?
- Differences are valued.
- Less conflict because people value each other.
- People learn about each other.
- More trust.
- Fewer divisions between people.
- Leadership is diverse.
- Greater collaboration.
- Diversity is not an issue.
It takes so much effort to resist diversity because people just can’t be jammed into one mold. Even organizations that consider themselves homogeneous will find a wide range of thoughts, behaviors and abilities in their workforce, they just don’t call it diversity. By ignoring or minimizing the value of diversity they actually make it a bigger issue than it is.
When diversity isn’t an issue you free yourself up to focus on creating an even stronger workplace. Leaders have the ability to create diverse, thriving workplaces where there is a lively exchange of ideas and perspectives and people of every description are celebrated. What will you do to make diversity a non-issue in your workplace?