Special Topics in Safety Management

5 Steps for Successfully Managing Diversity

Your workforce, your customers, and your markets are increasingly diverse. To promote individual and organizational success, you must welcome diversity and manage it well.

These five steps will help you to manage diversity effectively.

Diverse workforce

Five Key Steps

  1. Emphasize communication: Ensure that all employees understand your policies, procedures, safety rules, and other important information. Work to overcome language and cultural barriers. Have key materials, such as safety information, translated when possible. Use pictures and symbols on warning signs so that everybody can understand.
  2. View employees as individuals: Avoid both positive and negative stereotypes. Don’t make assumptions about employees from different groups. Judge successes and failures individually. Respond promptly and firmly when employees express prejudices or stereotypes. Remind them of your policies that prohibit discrimination. Encourage employees to view co-workers as individuals and judge them on their work, not on personal factors.
  3. Encourage employees to work in diverse groups: Assure that work teams reflect the diversity of your workplace. Diverse work teams let employees get to know and value one another as individuals. Diverse teams also expand the experiences and views of all the workers on the team and help them recognize the strength of their combined talents and perspectives.
  4. Base decisions on objective criteria: Expect all employees of all backgrounds to meet required standards and perform to the best of their ability. Don’t set different criteria for different groups. Don’t make excuses or allow employees to make excuses for shortcomings. Base all employment actions, including discipline, on specific, performance-related criteria. Always focus on job-related issues, not personal issues, when dealing with employees.
  5. Be open-minded: Recognize, and encourage employees to recognize, that one’s own experience, background, and culture are not the only ones with value to the organization. Set an example of encouraging diversity by developing relationships with colleagues whose backgrounds differ from yours. Look for ways to incorporate diverse perspectives and talents into efforts to achieve organizational goals.