Diversity consciousness is the acknowledgment that the communities and workplace individuals are becoming more diverse in terms or sexuality, gender, age, race, and gender (Thomas 2013). Diversity at the workplace has become recognized as one of the most beneficial asset in the workplace. It is crucial to a productive work environment because it provides diversity in a team. Diversity in the workplace improves creativity, innovation, and problem solving abilities due to diversity in individuals.
Diversity in the workplace can be developed through different strategies. First, the organization can research job-posting websites since they target a diverse group of job seekers (The Wall street journal 2013). However, employers should remember that qualifications are the priority in the hiring process. Secondly, the organization could be involved in local organizations to promote the company’s image (The Wall street journal 2013). By so doing, the company will develop the perception of diversity as well as recognize different cultures and styles of working that could be involved in the workplace. Finally, diversity could be developed by providing diversity training for all employees (The Wall street journal 2013). The managers should understand the benefits of diversity and will soon make hiring decisions that support the objective.
Barriers to achieving diversity success
Adapting diversity in the workplace involves assimilating different cultures in the office. Despite efforts put towards making the workplace diverse, there might be barriers in realizing success through this initiative. Resistance is one of the barriers to achieving diversity success (Patrick & Kumar 2012). Old employees may show resistance to assimilating people of other cultures in the work place. This may be because they may have the impression that the new employees have more to offer than they do.
Patrick & Kumar (2012) Argue that discrimination is also another challenge of diversity. This is because people like to relate to others who share some similarities. In a work environment, some cultures may be predominant and they may form groups neglecting the other cultures and in other cases showing hostility towards them. As a result, vital employees will reduce work productivity due to hostility in the work place.
Ethnocentrism is another barrier of cultural diversity. Some individuals might think that their ethnic or cultural group is more important than other groups. This may be fueled by favoritism, and exclusion of certain individuals (Patrick & Kumar 2012). If this becomes rampant, productivity in the workplace will drastically reduce and results may suffer.
Finally, stereotype is another workplace perception in a diverse workforce that may compromise success (Patrick & Kumar 2012). These are mental pictures formed by cultural notions recognized in the society. For example, the Chinese are hardworking and very smart, while Italians are very expressive. However, an individual might be different and have a different talent other than what is expected. However, coworkers might make assumptions about an individual without first identifying their strengths and weaknesses thus contributing very little in the workplace.
How to overcome diversity barriers
Patrick & Kumar (2012) argue that diversity barriers may be tackled through different strategies depending on the kind of problem being tackled. For example, if employees have little exposure to different cultures and may have started showing signs of stereotyping, training may counterbalance this misconceptions (Thomas 2013). In addition, social team building exercises should be encouraged. This is because such activities usually depict an individual’s strength and weaknesses.
Thomas (2013) States that discrimination may be discourages through mixing up different individuals to share the same office space. Through this strategy, they are less aware of their differences since they all have different backgrounds. In addition, they will better understand different cultures through these setups. They will also benefit from a variety of perspectives while performing everyday office chores.
Encouraging every employee to express his or her idea while conducting group meetings might deal with ethnocentrism. Due to different backgrounds and cultures, different individuals will come up with different ideas which if put together might provide very ingenious strategies (Thomas 2013). This will enable individuals who think that their culture is superior to appreciate every person’s ideas since after all they have the same qualifications.
Managers should also go through rigorous training before introducing diversity in the workplace. This training will equip them with skills on appreciating every member of the workforce without showing favoritism. Through equal treatment and collective encouragement through rewards, original employees will not have a reason to show resistance and will instead invite the prospect of having new colleagues (Thomas 2013).
Barriers to effective communication across cultures
Employees might speak a similar language but fail to understand each other especially with a diverse workforce. This may result to communication barriers. Cultural barrier is one of the causes of communication barrier in a workplace. Cultural differences emanate from different experiences, attitudes, and beliefs (Teatro 2011). As a result, two individuals might receive a similar message but interpret it differently since their references and original languages differ. For example, sucks to an American may mean something unpleasant while to a Scandinavian mean drawing, drinking, or pulling.
Linguistics barriers may also affect communication in a workplace. This is the difference in expressions even to individuals who originally speak similar languages (Teatro 2011). It may be facilitated by idioms and slang. Though coworkers might want to show off their linguistic abilities, it may be a cause of misunderstanding, or even embarrassment.
Biasness in communication is also rampant in culturally diverse workplace. This may be used consciously or subconsciously as people speak. As a result, only those who understand will agree with the speaker (Teatro 2011). For example, age and generation might be a cause of drift caused by biasness. Every generation have different words describing similar situations thus if left unchecked, it may cause barriers in communication.
Assumptions that everyone understands certain idioms or expressions used in language may sabotage a message intended for everyone (Teatro 2011). For example, a speaker might assume that since everyone in a meeting is nodding means that they all understand the message being relied. In addition, when he or she asks a question, and no one responds, he or she might assume that everyone understands. However, this might be because they do not want to embarrass themselves by asking a question that they may think is silly.
Strategies for overcoming communicating barriers
In a diverse work place, employees should identify their biases as an effort toward eliminating biasness as a barrier to communication (Teatro 2011). They should also identify individuals who are less likely to understand their personal views and understanding. Finally, individuals should always custom messages that include things that everyone could identify with.
Assumptions should be eliminated in the communication process in the office. Speakers should identify areas that they may have portrayed assumption (Teatro 2011). Also, identify the assumptions to the rest of the people and let them determine its validity. Finally, raise questions that address the areas of concern to the rest of the group and this might inspire questions and conversation.
Despite the benefits of a diversified workforce, certain challenges should be anticipated. However, it is always beneficial to identify that the benefits reaped from diversity overweigh the challenges expected. In addition, challenges are easy to deal with if the organization has a well-equipped managerial team. Mangers should be well equipped to deal with these issues if they are highly qualified and if they undergo repetitive training courses. In conclusion, with the right attitude and awareness of the benefits presented by diversity, potential conflicts will be resolved soon enough to reveal a very productive and profitable organization.
Patrick, H. A., & Kumar, V. R. (2012). Managing Workplace Diversity: Issues and Challenges, 2 (2), 1-15.
The Wall street journal. (2013) How to increase work place diversity. Retrieved from: http://guides.wsj.com/management/building-a-workplace-culture/how-to-increase-workplace-diversity/
Thomas, D. (2013) How to improve diversity consciousness within a workplace: Demand Media. Retrieved from: http://woman.thenest.com/improve-diversity-consciousness-within-workplace-7940.html
Teatro, G. (2011) 4 barriers to effective communication and what to do about them. Retrieved from: http://gwynteatro.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/4-barriers-to-effective-communication-what-to-do-about-them/