As organizations increasingly looking to create a workforce that mirrors the population at large. the diversity challenges facing businesses and other organizations mirror the challenges inherent when there is diversity in society. As such, diversity management has become an increasingly frequent topic in discussions of organizational operations.

Diversity management in the workforce acknowledges that people come from various backgrounds that include class, age, race, ethnicity, gender and disabilities. In the modern workforce, diversity is increasingly common.

This diversity is partly a result of a changing world and partly the result of a purposeful attempt by businesses to increase the diversity of their workforces.

A diverse workforce is beneficial for several reasons. An increasingly globalized community with increased communication has created an environment in which people are often exposed to people of different backgrounds.

Because of this, both for-profit and nonprofit organizations can benefit from the experience that people of different backgrounds bring to the workforce.

Types of Diversity in the Workplace

Several types of diversity exist in the workplace. One type is diversity is gender diversity. More women than ever are in the workplace, yet issues surrounding sexual harassment and obstacles to promotion still exist.

Another form of diversity is ethnicity and race. While people of different ethnicity and races have become an increasingly large part of the workforce, they still face hiring and promotion bias.

There is also diversity in sexual orientation, with lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals forming an ever-larger part of the workforce. These individuals often fear whether they can find employment in a setting that is friendly toward their background.

A diverse workforce is also characterized by an increasing presence of individuals who have served in the military. Veterans often possess valuable skills that are useful in a business setting.

Other Elements of Diversity

Age is an element of a diverse workforce. Employees may be young workers and older ones, considering that a quarter of the workforce is estimated to be over the age of 55 by the year 2024.

Individuals with disabilities also form part of a diverse workforce. These individuals sometimes need special accommodations for their particular disabilities.

Barriers to Diversity

There are multiple barriers to diversity in the workplace. However, research suggests that three major organizational barriers prevent workplace diversification.

The first barrier is the existence of a noninclusive culture. These cultures are typically conservative and lack the flexibility to integrate a diverse population easily.

Another barrier to diversity in the workplace is a lack of opportunity to grow.

Traditionally, women and minorities have had fewer opportunities to develop professionally.

One example of this is women in senior management that receive 20 percent less feedback than men. Feedback is critical to professional improvement. The lack of opportunity to receive feedback is a prime example of an unequal opportunity in the workplace.

Diversity in Executive Ranks

The additional pressure placed upon those who have traditionally not occupied senior or executive roles within an organization presents another barrier.

In some companies, opportunities for women and ethnic minorities in upper management are few and often limited to conditions in which it is difficult to succeed.

Diversity in the workplace requires providing equal opportunities for success, not increased chance for failure.

Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace

Organizations face many challenges in managing diversity. Leaders must go beyond merely acknowledging that the workforce is diverse. Instead, leadership has to create a culture that values the contributions of people of differing backgrounds. Individuals feel as if their contributions are unappreciated when they feel they are discriminated against.

Promoting an inclusive environment is essential.

When a company does not promote an inclusive environment, it may have to deal with the loss of talent. If leadership allows a hostile work environment to persist for long, people in the minority begin to look for work elsewhere. Even if they stay, discouraged staff members are less productive and feel less commitment to an organization’s goals.

If organizations want to remain competitive, they should create a welcoming environment for all people.

Diversity Training in the Workplace

One of the most common means of responding to diversity challenges in the workplace is to conduct diversity training. Diversity training is a normal part of diversity programs and is meant to educate people on how to work with others from a diverse background.

In theory, working well with others of differing backgrounds helps an organization be more productive because the employees function comfortably with one another.

Diversity training occurs in many varieties.

For example, diversity training may sometimes be heavily gender-focused, with the training emphasizing the inequalities that occur in the workplace because of gender bias. At other times, diversity training focuses on ethnicity, with the emphasis placed on setting aside stereotypes regarding other of different backgrounds.

As a result, diversity training can target almost any part of the workplace’s demographics.

Focuses in Diversity Training

There are focuses in standard diversity training.

The first focus is on emphasizing compliance with organization regulations regarding how to treat others of a differing background. The second focus of diversity training is on celebrating the differences that exist between people of different backgrounds. Finally, diversity training recognizes that power structures within an organization more greatly benefit some parts of the workplace than others.

Mentoring Programs in an Organization

One way that organizations attempt to manage diversity in the workplace is through mentoring programs. Mentoring has become an increasingly popular way of addressing workforce concerns and managing personnel.

Mentors can play an important role in setting examples for mentees and showing them how to be effective. Mentors can also demonstrate to less-experienced individuals the value of working effectively with others of a diverse background.

Formal mentoring programs are the most common form of mentoring that occurs in the workplace. These are programs that the organization hosts and are designed with the purpose of passing along specific values and skills to a mentee. Mentors not only set examples but can also be active instructors, teaching about the unequal power dynamics that commonly occur within an organization.

Diverse Workplaces Create Stronger Organizations

There are few disadvantages to diversity in the workplace.

Diverse workplaces are workplaces that are reflective of an increasingly diverse society and these workplaces are more likely to be competitive. They integrate the talents and perspectives of people from different backgrounds to create a stronger organization that is suited to modern challenges.