5 Ways Managers Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Today, competent administrators show sensitivity to individual needs by encouraging upward mobility among all staff members. These forward-thinking leaders understand how important it is for people to feel that they’re receiving fair treatment and equal access to opportunities while considering the dynamic forces that exist among employees. Evident sincerity in these matters is important, because a manager’s actions far outweigh their statements. Therefore, workplace leaders pinpoint, acknowledge, and cultivate each employee’s special skills and promote upward or lateral mobility by providing training for the entire talent pool. The best managers continually seek opportunities to learn more about diversity and cultural competency.

The public expects corporate and public enterprises to foster diversity, and various interest groups competently voice their right to career development and representation. These efforts can start from various points within the organization and advanced by leadership. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study conducted by diversity consultant Catherine Dixon-Kheir reports that taking proactive steps to improve workplace diversity improves morale and company profits. As a result, executives and public officials are learning to recognize biases and working to remove them from their organizations. They do so in part by acknowledging and incorporating the ideas, values, background and experiences of their staff, communities and customers.

1. Promote Diversity in the Work Setting

Increasing diversity in existing environments requires steadfast commitment and contemplation on how to create change. To facilitate this, managers undergo training to recognize and thereby reduce explicit bias. In addition, administrators and executives unfamiliar with diversity initiatives seek mentorship from executive-level diversity offices to provide insight and guidance.

2. Recognize the Challenge and Value of Individuality

While it is easier to come to a decision when everyone thinks the same way, appreciating individual perspectives is a worthwhile endeavor. Company leaders foster diversity by frequently, and openly, acknowledging each employee’s positive contributions. This maximizes an employee’s desire to reach his/her full potential contribution to the organization and serves as a catalyst for their growth. By encouraging diversity rather than conformity, leaders incite creative thinking in the workplace, a necessary value in a highly competitive marketplace.

3. Immerse Yourself in the Experiences of Others

Implementing new diversity and inclusion initiatives typically meets with resistance from individuals who believe that such efforts threaten corporate income. However, if an organization has dedicated few resources to this sort of endeavor, they often meet with overwhelming success. First time diversity initiatives often produce organizational epiphanies, and sometimes outcomes of mass proportion.
For one famous example, when Walmart CEO Sam Walton initially developed his retail giant chain store concept, his profit-focused peers rejected the idea. Walton defied naysayers by organizing a culturally diverse team that understood the market that he wanted to reach with his new enterprise. Today, almost every American household is familiar with the Walmart brand.

Similarly, government organizations like the California Department of Motor Vehicles have worked to promote a culturally aware environment for employees and citizens alike. Thanks to the creation of “El Sabelotodo del DMV,” a mini YouTube series written, produced, and edited by DMV employees, Spanish speaking citizens were able to access a wealth of information and answers to many frequently asked questions as told by the fictional yet cultured, worldly, and sophisticated “El Sabelotodo” himself. This innovative move not only called attention to the increasing Spanish-speaking community of California, but also helped the organization to foster an inclusive environment.

It is quite common for managers who succeed with diversity and inclusion initiatives to regularly seek out the ideas and opinions of peers from a full range of experiences. By associating with people of varying backgrounds, interests and relationship within and external to their organization, leaders build genuine bonds and connect with many cultures, making and offering valuable career contacts and improving organizational effectiveness. Whenever networking with others, seek out those in everyday work life and those whose histories are least like your own, because everyone has something to teach you.

4. See Something (Wrong), Say Something

When managers hear of or witness acts that appear discriminatory, it is their moral and legal responsibility to respond. Leaders of enterprises have authority and a requirement to act responsibly to create a hospitable work environment by guiding others in practicing mutual respect. Overt and even implicit bias in workplace undermines employee contributions. All people of varying ages, genders, ethnicities and regional origins have valuable contributions to offer. The corporate and public world draws from a global talent pool. Fostering understanding and collaborating is increasing in importance even for small organizations.

5. Be the Real Deal

Insincere diversity initiatives are ineffective. Employees and those who visit the work site carefully observe enterprise activity and can easily spot insincerity. Modern enterprises historically have valued cultural uniformity, but in recent times a firm’s engagement with the broader community defines its brand identity and its relationship with industry partners, employees and the public.

Implicit Bias

Implicit bias is an individual’s internal belief regarding self and others. It can influence how people conduct themselves in various settings and situations. In practice implicit bias may result in injustices such as stereotyping and racial profiling. The National Center for State Courts defines implicit bias as “judgement or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes.” This behavior is difficult to self-identify, because people typically respond and behave in ways that seem appropriate for the environment and protect their own interests. Furthermore, beliefs underlying implicit bias are often subconscious. In the United States, many organizations and some groups are working to reduce implicit bias and its impact as part of initiatives to promote diversity.

A project at USF organized by Professors Ja’Nina Walker and Sonja Martin Poole, Check Your Privilege, (https://myusf.usfca.edu/student-life/intercultural-center/check-your-privilege) works to raise student and faculty awareness about privilege on the San Francisco campus. The group defines privilege as “unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group.” They work to bring privilege into regular public discussion and urge those with privilege to use it to increase social equality. The group also desires to increase consciousness about privilege among influential social justice figures.
Project Implicit, a national organization headed by Kate Ratcliff and Emily Umasky, collaborates to study and educate the public about implicit bias. The group investigates the thoughts and emotions that exist in the subconscious mind. The researchers are working on unearthing techniques to discover implicit bias, deliver practical recommendations to reduce the practice and improve individual and organizational cultural values.

Diversity Trends

According to diversity advocate Selena Kahn-Rezvani, joining organizations that develop workplace diversity initiatives exposes organizational leaders to positive corporate examples. In today’s job climate, many executives speak out against misconduct, and innovative firms are specifically hiring directors – in spirit and title – to foster diversity. Today, diversity extends beyond ethnicity and gender to many other schools of thought. Looking to the future, it is inadequate to add a diversity checklist solely for the sake of organizational responsibility; firms must meet this challenge with sincerity, openness and honesty or they will be unable to attract top talent or provide the goods and services that their consumers desire.

Human resources technology makes diversity implementation easier for executives monitoring the hiring process, individual candidate’s’ progress and recruitment staff members’ hiring histories. This transparency facilitates change and improvement and gives firms the ability to recruit talent from around the world.

Administrators evaluate all factors that create, or hinder, a work environment where all staff members see their contributions fully acknowledged. Today, employees come from backgrounds encompassing many ideas and beliefs. Public, nonprofit, and private organizations best reflect the community where they operate and in a way that is effective by recognizing its diversity. They best manage the workplace when managers utilize known practices that foster individual self-awareness and growth. Using new and emerging tools creates a workplace where diverse groups of people work together successfully.

Learn More

By learning more about the University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration (MPA), you will be taking an important first step toward pursuing your professional goals and commitment to social justice. Our program is designed for professionals who want to become effective managers and civic leaders who affect change through policy management and advocacy.


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Diversity Fatigue. (2016, February 11). Retrieved February 01, 2017, from http://www.economist.com/news/business/21692865-making-most-workplace-diversity-requires-hard-work-well-good-intentions-diversity
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