Diversity in the Workplace & How to Manage it

Did you know . . .

Companies that practice diversity and inclusion in the workplace outperform non-diverse companies by 15%.

That’s because innovation is enhanced by having a wide variety of employees from differing backgrounds and demographics. And when these people work together to on a common goal, the result can be truly impressive.

Unfortunately, when the workplace grows more diverse, tensions rise accordingly. To make sure your work environment facilitates acceptance and respect, it’s important to be aware of the 7 common challenges associated with diversity so they can be properly addressed.

1. Tolerance & Respect

Respect is an essential principle that is practiced in successfully diversified workplaces. A lack of tolerance for the varying cultures and beliefs among employees breeds conflict, which may manifest itself as animosity and, in some situations, even violence.

Acceptance cultivates respect, which in turn thwarts conflict. When co-workers accept the differences between each other, it leads to a willingness to share ideas and productively collaborate.

Employees should all be required to participate in diversity training to ensure that they understand, accept, and respect each’s other’s differences.

2. Accommodation for Beliefs

Culture, religion, and politics can present challenges in a diverse workplace. Reminding employees that they shouldn’t impose their beliefs on others will help prevent tension and bickering.

Employees should also be advised to keep their ethnic and personal beliefs separate from their work responsibilities and duties.

3. Ethnic and Cultural Prejudice

Sadly, prejudice continues to be a problem in today’s workplace because some people still discriminate against those with different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds than their own.

Prejudice must not be tolerated in the workplace. Each company should have clearly defined company policies & regulations on discrimination and ensure that they are communicated to its employees.

Additionally, training employees on cultural sensitivities, as well as providing diversity awareness programs, will help address these issues and pave the way for an environment of acceptance.

4. Gender Equality

According to The Equal Pay Act of 1963, men and women should receive equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. But according to a March 2016 study from Glassdoor, men still earn 24% higher base pay than women, on average.

Employers are responsible for preventing gender discrimination and maintaining equality when it comes to hiring, salary, opportunities, and promotions.

CEO.com suggests practices like using data metrics to set standards for evaluations that are to be used for all employees in the same way, providing childcare solutions, mentoring based on talent, and training managers how to be fair in the workplace.

5. Physical / Mental Disabilities

Disabled employees often find it difficult to navigate their workplace due to a lack of accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps. Other special needs employees have service dogs which are not allowed in the buildings where they’re supposed to work. But accommodating these needs is only part of the solution. It’s also important to avoid discriminatory or derogatory remarks.

Set up processes and procedures for people with physical or mental disabilities. For example, some companies have a “quiet room” where employees can go when they start feeling anxious.

Taking the necessary steps to ensure a fair and comfortable work environment for employees with physical and mental disabilities contributes to a well-rounded workplace.

6. Ageism

Millennials are set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. That being said, being surrounded by a host of younger colleagues can make older workers feel left out—and in some cases, obsolete—as they struggle to adapt to changes in a work culture brought about by a younger generation.

This age gap can lead to disagreements over how things should be done. “To maintain teamwork and collaboration,” says ThisWay Global, “create an open communication culture within your organization to help bridge the gap between generations.”

7. Language Barriers

With a diverse workforce comes barriers in language and communication. Companies in the US and UK often hire people whose native tongue is not English, resulting in difficulties when employees and managers are trying to get their message across. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to miscommunication and a loss of productivity.

Hiring employees that are bilingual or multilingual can help to bridge language barriers. Additionally, providing language training for non-native English speakers will help alleviate problems with miscommunication.


“Diversity in the work environment promotes acceptance, respect, and teamwork despite differences in race, age, gender, native language, political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, or communication styles among employees,” says ThisWay Global.

Of course, a diverse workforce is not without its challenges. If handled in a sensitive and tactful way, however, diversity benefits the workplace in the long run.

With a more diverse workforce, company’s excel in innovation because they have a team of people from various backgrounds and perspectives working together toward a common goal.

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Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.