Unity in Diversity
Unity in diversity is an old saying, which is true in many contexts. In the workplace, diversity makes for a better and stronger workforce. It means more than tolerance of differences. It is the recognition and understanding that differences provide ideas, create connections, and enrich the human connection.
Diversity is broad and includes more differences than most people think of. Of course, it includes ethnicity, religion, and sex, but there are many more types of diversity that can benefit your workforce. These include age, experience, disability, and culture.
Focusing on diversity has tangible and intangible benefits for your business. These include different perspectives, more innovation and creativity, and expansion of the pool of possible employees or co-workers. It also can present challenges including bias and resistance to change.
It helps keep people engaged and provides opportunities for connection. If you have or plan to have a diverse workforce, you need to integrate diverse individuals at all levels. This means having diversity in your teams, committees, and management. Instituting education and activities can bring people in a diverse workforce together and create opportunities for connection and growth.
You also will need to hold people accountable. This is difficult because many people aren’t comfortable with change. As your business changes and you make accountability matter, certain longer-term employees may self-select out if they are uncomfortable with the changes being made. Others will grow and rise to the occasion. This is because making a change to your workforce to add diversity will alter your company’s culture.
You don’t just decide to try to have your company change its culture to become more diverse and it happens. You need to have a plan in place. Among other things, you need to consider what types of backgrounds may add diversity that you believe will benefit your business, how to go about moving forward with your plan, and what you want your company’s culture to be.
This will not happen overnight. It’s a long-term strategy. If you are able to build diverse teams in your business, the road will have bumps, but it will yield positive results in the future. It will build a stronger community that will attract- and retain - good and talented people.
As always, this post and others can be found on my blog, Business Law Guy.
About the Author: Neal Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation, workouts, and bankruptcy litigation. Neal can be reached at 602.248.1000.