Workplace diversity has become more than just a fad; it is an essential element to an organization’s success, particularly employee engagement. From the management to frontline employees, workplace diversity brings unique backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to the table.
In Singapore, Seah Moon Ming, the Chairman of Singapore’s leading public transport provider SMRT, ran the organization with him at the helm. Before Hong stepped into the position, the previous CEO said that most of the problems they have encountered were because of deeply-seated cultural issues, which were difficult to address at the roots.
Promoting the value of workplace diversity can be difficult with disruptions around. Handling minority employees can also be a challenge if they don’t feel comfortable sharing their cultural experiences at work. In this article, we’ll talk about cultivating inclusion and diversity in the modern workplace and ways to empower workers.
Establish clear communication
Clear communication is the key to making people feel heard and belong in an organization. This means the communication style and cadence of your workplace should reflect the different needs of workers.
For example, workers should feel at ease approaching their managers, HR, or coworkers about the company’s treatment in terms of age, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and other cultural factors. In turn, managers and teams should feel confident in communicating with employees, using inclusive language, and avoiding assumptions. This is a great way to establish respectful and open communication channels.
You should also ask for regular feedback and set up diversity teams from each department for training and candidate recruitment. These teams will help the company in its ongoing efforts to enhance employee engagement and workplace culture.
Host intercultural training programs
Organizing regular intercultural training can make a big difference in motivating and showing your appreciation of your diverse set of employees. Intercultural training involves an open and comprehensive discussion with experts who know different cultural backgrounds and ethnic groups. They will discuss the various cultural differences and emphasize how teams are alike in ethics, ambitions, and work goals.
This type of training isn’t just a one-time event. It should be continuous because acknowledging cultural differences in the workplace is a never-ending process and should be ingrained within the company culture. This will help the company be more attuned to change and create new team dynamics that will strengthen workplace relationships in the long run.
Participants include everyone in the office, especially the minority employees. You can also invite them to speak about their experiences and backgrounds to give them a sense of empowerment, which helps in building confidence and acceptance.
Encourage diversity of discussion
Creating a diverse work environment isn’t a promotional thing to lure new hires. Every company should make efforts to make everyone feel welcome. This can be done by inviting everyone to take part in the diversity discussion.
Most companies promote diversity by simply recruiting a particular cultural group. But this approach may even backfire on the company itself by drawing misinterpretations. Minority employees feel more at ease if their company is actively exploring networking opportunities with multicultural companies and expanding their hiring pool.
If employees know their company is consistently working in creating a multicultural workplace, it’s easy to support a team and work completely diverse culture.
Create a safe space
Promote diversity and inclusivity by creating a safe space where employees can practice and share their beliefs. For example, most companies have devoted a prayer room for Catholic or Muslim employees to pray or meditate during breaks.
Another way is to rethink collaborative spaces and workstations where employees have more freedom to interact with their coworkers during breaks or downtime. This creates a sense of community and belongingness, where people feel empowered to voice out their thoughts. It will also eliminate the creation of workplace factions or exclusive groups.
You can host plenty of programs in the office to celebrate diversity, such as seminars, events, and donation campaigns. Invite employees to volunteer and open opportunities to discuss their advocacies, causes, and backgrounds. Another way is to organize staff panels to discuss sensitive cultural topics that most employees feel afraid or hesitant to bring up on their own.
You can also adjust the company policy to accommodate different cultures, from promotions, recruitment, and performance evaluations. Some examples are allowing leaves for religious holidays or opportunities to allow workers to assimilate with the company culture.
Actively investing in promoting a welcoming and inclusive work environment results in a happier and more engaged workforce that will benefit the company in the long run. As you foster cultural diversity in the workplace, your efforts will help you drive retention, creativity, and innovation across the organization.