Diversity is a term that has been used a lot lately. With the gender and pay equality issues affecting the business world, business owners cannot afford to ignore this term or use it incorrectly. What does diversity mean? It can have many meanings to many people, depending on your heritage and economic status. According to Chron, diversity is the recognition and acceptance of a person’s unique traits. These traits include “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political ideologies, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities or socio-economic status. These characteristics also may include life experiences and cognitive approaches toward problem-solving.”
It is interesting that the definition now includes life experiences and approaches to problem-solving. Yet, it is these experiences and problem-solving approaches that can create new product innovations. As our world becomes more diverse, employers will need to become more aware of diversity in the workplace and what it entails. No one wants to work in a hostile environment or be discriminated against. Let’s talk about some of the top diversity issues facing businesses today.
- Acceptance and Respect — These should already be part of any community (e.g. corporate or school). Yet, they are lacking when it comes to diversity. Being accepting and respectful towards another person (or group) who is different from others stems from cultural influences, especially in the home. It can be very hard for someone to accept another religion, race, culture or even sexual identification. It can generate conflict. However, when acceptance and respect are put into practice (e.g. workshops), the environment changes to one of positivity and productivity. For example, companies that practice diversity outperform companies that do not by 15 percent per ThisWay.
- Age Differences — With more Millennials and Generation Y’s entering the workplace, it can cause an issue with older generations (e.g. cultural beliefs). We have already witnessed generational issues between Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers. When we acknowledge our differences and our similarities, we can become a better unit and more productive. It is important that there aren’t any cliques in the workplace as this causes separation and disparages teamwork.
- Mental and Physical Disabilities — A greater focus has been put on mental health issues in the past few years than ever before. This is due to the rise in depression, anxiety and suicide rates. There are many people diagnosed with a type of autism in the workplace as well. Physical disabilities are included in this group as there are procedures and accommodations made to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment. It is vital that employers and employees do not make derogatory comments or use body language that makes others uncomfortable.