Workforce Diversity Challenges

Cultural misunderstandings

Misunderstandings can also be common when you bring people from different cultures together. For example, giving a thumbs up, using your left hand, or patting someone on the back are offensive in some cultures.

Building an inclusive workplace can help the offended team member identify a misunderstanding as just that. When people feel confident that their team members respect their differences, they are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Communication issues

Communication issues can be somewhat common on diverse teams, and for a wide variety of reasons. There may be language barriers, different communication styles or preferences, or people with hearing loss on your team. It’s important to address these challenges before they become problematic.

Acceptance and Respect

A fundamental value that contributes to a successfully diversified workplace is respect among workers and employees. When there is a lack of acceptance of the diverse culture and beliefs among employees, conflicts may arise. Acceptance fosters mutual respect and prevents conflicts from arising. Diversity training will help employees understand, accept, and respect each’s other’s differences.

Inequitable inclusion

An inclusive workplace may mean something different to everyone. For a transgender team member, it might include a space to add pronouns in your People platforms and gender-neutral bathrooms. For a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it might include a mental health benefit and flex hours to see a therapist. And for a working parent, it might include a childcare flexible spending account and planning team building events during work hours. As such, it’s very possible that your workplace will feel inclusive to some, but not to others.

Accommodation of Beliefs

Diversity in cultural, spiritual, and political beliefs can sometimes pose a challenge in a diverse workplace. Employees need to be reminded that they shouldn’t impose their beliefs on others to prevent spats and disputes.

Generation Gaps

By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, and they are changing the work culture. Employees from other generations may have difficulties adapting to changes in the workplace and the work culture that the younger generation are bringing about. In larger corporations, there are more diversified age groups, from teenagers to senior citizens. As a result, cliques and social circles may be formed, and some workers may be isolated from the team.

Slower decision making

Different perspectives, opinions, and ideas are great for innovation, but can slow down decision making and progress toward goals. For instance, a team member who challenges the status quo in a meeting may bring up an important point that needs to be explored.

Make space for this to happen by allowing more time for teams to consider different ideas, debate them, and come to more informed decisions. There are many benefits to allowing people to speak up, even in an area outside of their expertise.

Physical and Mental Disabilities

Often, disabled employees have a difficult time navigating through their workplace because proper accommodations as simple as wheelchair ramps are not available. Some special needs employees also have service dogs, and some office buildings don’t allow them inside. Make arrangements for service dogs to be permitted in your place of work.

Have procedures in place for people with physical or mental disabilities. Some companies have a “quiet room” so that when employees start to feel anxious, they can use that room to ease their anxiety.

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