How to Respect Diversity in the Workplace

by Leyla Norman; Updated September 26, 2017

When diverse individuals in a company or organization can work together, production increases and it results in a more positive work environment, according to Charney and Associates Inc., a group of management consultants. Among some of the negative impacts of a lack of respect for diversity in business are high employee turn over, legal fees and settlements from discrimination suits and a poor community reputation. According to Bijan International, a consulting group, "The management of diversity can be considered a response to the need to recognize, respect and capitalize on the different backgrounds in our society in terms of race, ethnicity and gender."

Step 1

View each individual as unique and as being able to contribute something positive to the company or organization. Recognize that each person on your team or in your company has talent and ideas that can make your company or organization grow for the better. When different points of view come together on a project, the end result will be more well thought out and detailed than if only one group of similar individuals works on it.

Step 2

Replace the old adage "Treat others as you want to be treated" with "Treat others as they want to be treated." Think about how different cultures and individuals in your workplace want you to talk to them or not talk to them, as the case may be. Consider whether an employee of another culture considers it polite to look him in the eye when you are talking to him, or whether a person who enjoys being alone really wants to join in on the company picnic. If you are not sure whether a person wants to be treated a certain way, ask her preferences in a respectful and polite manner.

Step 3

Consider how your institution’s rules, underlying culture, policies and procedures affect employees individually. Identify any barriers there may be in the workplace to including everyone and making the most of their talents. For example, a long memo emailed to certain English employees about company policy may not get transmitted to limited-English-speaking personnel who do not have a company email address. You cannot expect the latter employees to understand the memo if they never received it and their command of English is not good enough to understand the letter in the first place.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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