How to Promote Equality and Diversity in a Multicultural Workplace
This is not a new consideration for employers. Indeed, it has been a training focus, particularly in the public sector for many years. However, one of the most powerful messages that I have seen was at a local government equality awareness event many years ago. The focus was on ‘embracing equality but valuing difference’. This highlights an important distinction – treating people equally does not mean treating people the same.
Valuing difference – our workplaces are enriched by the personality and cultural differences of the people who work there. People have different needs and bring different insights to the job. Whilst we strive for fair treatment, and we are indeed bound by laws and practices surrounding this, we also need to capitalize on the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Here are some practical ways to promote equality and diversity in your workplace:
- All employees should be able to access appropriate training and development. Practically, this means that part-time workers and those with childcare commitments or other responsibilities should not miss training opportunities as a result. Therefore the days and times of training delivery should enable this.
- When seeking to improve your business, do you survey a representative sample of your customers or staff? Do you know the particular demographics of both your customers and your staff? Do you know if you have any under-represented groups within your workforce? Do your highest level employees/managers come from a variety of backgrounds and include both genders?
- Do you have things in place for customers/clients who do not have English as a first language? Are you able to draw upon translation services?
- Are applicant names, ages and ethnicity removed from job applications before short-listing? This can prevent assumptions based on these factors.
- Are team-building or social activities inclusive of those with health impairments and family responsibilities? Do you consider those who choose not to eat certain foods, drink alcohol and those who follow different religious holidays?
- Are there opportunities for staff from all levels of the company to interact and work together?
Most importantly, any attempts to improve things in your workforce need to be approved in consultation will all staff – we cannot assume a solution for equality without designing it with full input of those target groups and others affected by this. For more information, see http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/documents/publications/an_employer_s_guide_to_creating_an_inclusive_workplace.pdf