Psychology for Business
Menu
21st June 2018

Diversity at Work

The workplace is an ever-changing landscape. Over the last few decades we have seen considerable demographic changes and increasing economic globalisation, which is why understanding how you can support and manage diversity in the workplace is important now more than ever.

Diversity means being inclusive with people of different ages, genders, ethnicity, abilities, cultures, classes, beliefs, orientations, values and attitudes including those with protected characteristics within the law.

Psychological research tells us that the culture of an organisation can impact the potential of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Therefore, if we know how to do this we can make our organisations more successful.

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

Feeling safe at work

People are more likely to be attracted to join and stay in an organisation when they feel that it is a safe place where they can be accepted and thrive.  Creating a ‘psychological safe’ environment in the workplace helps enhance the performance in diverse teams. The way we create this kind of culture and climate is through role modelling appropriate behaviours and the way that we process the social information that we take in. So, if we see that people like us are welcomed and thrive and that a variety of ideas, experience, backgrounds are valued we are more likely to contribute.

Leadership

Culture is impacted on by the way those who work in an organisation demonstrate leadership and this in turn affects diversity. Increasing diversity through leadership can be done both informally and formally.

Informal approach:

  • Being a role model
  • Promoting understanding of different values
  • Encouraging and rewarding others who promote tolerance for diversity
  • Challenging others who show discrimination

Formal approach:

  • Diversity and inclusion training programmes which enhance team creativity
  • Raising self-awareness about stereotyping and intolerance in the workplace
  • Educating about cultural differences

Designing Tasks to Increase Diversity

Research shows certain tasks are more suited to diverse teams and that where possible, organisations should think about the fit of the team to the task. e.g. complex, creative and innovative tasks will benefit from having diverse teams to increase ideas and creativity. Where tasks are more structured and simple diversity in the team is less important.

Benefits of Increasing Diversity in the Workplace

Capitalising on the diversity available to us in the workplace can bring a range of benefits, including enhanced creativity, productivity and increased profit. Supporting and fostering diversity within the workplace can also provide opportunities for ensuring the right people are placed in the right roles.

Some of our recent research in this area has highlighted that diversity and inclusion are crucial for the successful functioning of organisations, but current policies and processes are not quite there yet…

“Current processes are a bit hit or miss”

If implemented properly, it could improve equality to access”

Many organisations have not identified the importance of managing their workforce to increase diversity. They often spend more time and money on appraising a piece of equipment than they do their largest investment – the workforce. This is a lost opportunity.

We strongly believe in increasing diversity in organisations – why? As well as believing that increasing diversity is the right thing to do for natural justice, we can prove that it is beneficial for organisations. What we can see is that where organisations develop and implement policies that increase diversity in the workforce there are benefits for the customers, workforce and shareholders.

What are you doing to increase diversity? Get in touch to find out more on how to manage and support diversity in the workplace.