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How to effectively manage diversity in the workplace

by , 06 August 2015
Diversity is what our democracy is founded on. It is something that, if managed correctly, can become a powerful force in helping your company move forward. Here are 6 steps to managing diversity, as laid out in the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

1. Become a 'diversity leader':
Such a leader has the support and trust of all his/her employees – regardless of their differences (such as race, gender, age, religion etc.).
2. Build an awareness:
Problems can easily arise in the workplace because what some say or do might be offensive to others. Therefore, a cross-cultural understanding vitally important here. 
3. Promote 'diversity values' 
You have been brought up in a particular way and, depending on that way, you have taken on certain values. However, not everyone will share the same values. 
This doesn't mean that you, or others, should change values but rather that you, as the employer, should promote shared values that incorporate respect, sensitivity, equality and tolerance.
4. Have a 'diversity policy'
As an employer, you are under a legal obligation to ensure that no unfair discrimination or harassment occurs within your company. So draft, adopt and enforce a diversity policy that sets out to encourage respect tolerance and co-operation amongst employees whilst protecting against harassment and unfair discrimination.
5. Communication for diversity
Whilst you may have an 'official' language in your workplace, it is important to understand that –especially in a diverse workforce – not all employees will have that particular language as their home language. 
Therefore, a certain degree of patience and tolerance and understanding is essential when communicating with your staff. 
Understanding language differences in a diverse work setting is an important tool in achieving effectiveness and efficiency in your company, 
6. Appreciate and celebrate diversity:
Diversity in the workplace should be met with openness and not fear. Encourage your staff to appreciate their differences and to learn from each other. This will enhance communication, trust and overall solidarity amongst your employees. 
So there you have it – great strategies in order to manage diversity effectively and efficiently.
Transformation in the workplace is a very important factor in moving South Africa forward – and Employment Equity comprises a vitally important part in achieving such transformation. So click here and ensure that you are up to date with all there is to know about Employment Equity.

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