7 ‘don’ts’ of diversity for fostering a healthy office culture

Change at a workplace is hard and often comes with improvements and challenges which cannot be ignored. Change can be a struggle for employees who often need time to gradually adapt themselves to it, rather than feeling forced into it. Even minor changes, for example, changing your company’s choice of internal messaging app may spark a crossfire, let alone discussions surrounding diversity.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you may want to follow the latest trends from time to time to keep up with the competition. But to be a true leader, you also need to account for everyone: to be responsible for the satisfaction of every single member of your team – to be aware of their needs and concerns, as much as practically possible.

When chants of diversity and inclusion reverberate down the organizational hierarchy, they are met with mixed reactions and sometimes even dead silence, no matter how much we deny it. Some employees celebrate it as a positive step towards creating a ‘fairer’ and inclusive workplace, whereas in other groups, it may be perceived as an unnecessary optics booster which lowers the hiring bar.

Rest assured, I’m not going to ask you to answer the million-dollar (lawsuit) question: “If Jack and Jill both performed exceptionally well during an interview, and are equally qualified, who should get the job for a single vacancy?” Either way, it’s hard to win.

Much thought and focus are being put into taking by force, a traditionally “straight, white, cis-male”-dominated workforce and transforming it into a ‘diverse’ one. But little consideration goes into the cultural implications of such changes which impact the majority of employees in an existing workforce.

We cannot work towards diversity and inclusion for all while working against it. Diversity comes with advantages and disadvantages and the key is to leverage the advantages while being aware of the challenges. If not approached carefully, the implementation can often alienate the vast majority of an IT workforce which may be disruptive, and ultimately hinder productivity and collaboration.

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