Technology has changed how people across the world interact, including with businesses. Companies now have a much wider and far-reaching geographical area through which they can interact with people, including consumers and even prospective employees. Moreover, companies now have the ability to hire employees from a wider pool of people than it was two decades ago. They are not limited to hiring employees within specific geographical regions.
This means that a company can therefore have a workforce that is composed of individuals from across different cultural backgrounds and even having different characteristics and traits. Having a diverse workforce that is heterogeneous is highly encouraged by law across many jurisdictions. Penalties are set for companies that seek to employ only a specific dominant group and deny other groups the chance of employment. However, even without being pushed by the law, companies can take steps to ensure they have a diverse workforce consisting of different groups of people.
Employees can be grouped according to their race, ethnicity, age, religious belief or creed, gender, disability and even sexual orientation. Some characteristics such as ethnicity are inherent and acquired naturally from birth while others are acquired from experience staying or working in different locations or countries. Companies therefore need to take measures to ensure that their workforce accommodates the different groups of employees.
Some of these steps include:
1. Bias-free Recruitment
Companies should conduct bias-free recruitment and selection processes. Job offers should not be restricted to only specific groups of people. For instance, companies can look beyond the conventional sources for job searches to find prospective employees who may want to get the job but are not in a position to use the usual sources. A company can also post jobs in different formats to allow those with disabilities that hinder them from using the conventional formats to also have a chance to apply for jobs.
During interviews, the employers can avoid focusing on the applicant’s gender or race or ethnicity but rather focus on their merits and achievements. They can also ask the applicant if he or she has any accommodation needs so that plans can be made to accommodate them.
2. Create a Conducive Environment
A company can create a workplace environment that allows different groups of people to work freely and effectively. This can be through various ways:
The company can use technological modifications that will make it easier for employees with disabilities to move around and work without discomfort. An example would be erecting ramps at the entrance of the company’s building premises for the employee using a wheelchair.
Alternatively, a company can use different formats to make information accessible to employees with disabilities. Printed matter can be converted to different media and reader services can be adopted for blind employees. Softwares that would enable blind employees to work on computers can also be used. Interpreters for deaf employees and those with hearing impairments can be hired at the company. The idea is to make the employee’s workstation as comfortable as possible.
Inclusive Policies And Procedure
A company can also create a conducive workplace environment by adopting policies that support and encourage diversity, and discourage discrimination and harassment of employees. These policies should also promote the rights and safety of different groups of people.
3. Involve Everyone
A company should ensure that all employees are equally heard and given equal opportunities. The employers should make it safe for the employees to propose ideas and make suggestions without fearing they will be ignored because they are different.
Employers should therefore allow the different employees to make decisions on themselves and demonstrate to them that they (employers) believe in them, their different characteristics notwithstanding. The company should also give all the employees equal opportunities from career growth and make promotions without focusing on the gender, race or ethnicity of the employee. Women, people with disabilities and those with different sexual orientations or religious beliefs should be given equal opportunities to hold positions of leadership within the company and be part of the management.
4. Go beyond the Norm
While the law across jurisdictions and states has tried to take measures to ensure employees are not discriminated because they are different, companies can go an extra mile beyond what is encouraged by the law to make their workforce diverse. For example, a company can go beyond allowing an expectant employee to take the statutory-provided leave and extend the period for the leave. The company can also make arrangements for the new mother to work from home and even share advice on health and nutrition with her.
Basically, companies need to make sure that their workforce is diverse. Having a heterogeneous workforce goes beyond just building a good reputation for the company. It brings together diverse talent which can be harnessed to ensure better decision-making and problem solving. It encourages creativity and innovation within the company. Employees coming from different backgrounds will make it possible to market effectively to different customers. A company having a diverse workforce will also be in a position to participate easily in global markets. And such employees when they feel that they are accepted within the company will stay committed to it and this will spur the company’s growth.