In the current business climate, diversity in the workplace remains a worthwhile goal for many industries. Studies show that embracing workplace diversity leads to better business performance. So, when we focus on creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, it not only makes us better human beings but also helps our businesses thrive.
Diversity and inclusion affect all industries. For example, in the creative industry, women enter the field in comparable numbers as men, however, they do not advance at the same pace. People of color in the same industry also have problems with career advancement compared to their white counterparts. This goes to show how much gender and race impact the careers and job prospects of individuals.
Also, this article will serve as a guide to the challenges of diversity in the workplace and how to overcome them.
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Breaking Down Workplace Diversity
In a multi-personnel workplace, diversity helps create teams with diverse team members who have different skillsets and strengths. They use these strengths to drive innovation, productivity and bring creative solutions to complex problems.
Although it seems natural to assume that an ideal team comprises a group of individuals who can do one thing really well, that is a wrong assumption. In reality, such a team would be a total failure. The ideal team should consist of diverse team members from different genders, ages, and ethnicity.
Need help overcoming the challenges of diversity in the workplace? EasyLlama can help. Try our diversity training for employers. We'll show you the exact steps to easily promote a diverse and inclusive workplace and have your business thrive.
Having a diverse workforce makes task delegation to be too much easier, assigning tasks to individuals that have the natural inclination towards them.
Despite the many benefits of having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workspace, there are still a few diversity challenges that remain. These include:
The #meToo movement still continues to be a factor in highlighting the need for businesses to take workplace harassment claims seriously and update their sexual harassment policies.
Business leaders and employers need to educate their employees so that they can understand, recognize and report cases of sexual harassment. This is easily achieved through anti-harassment training provided by interactive and intuitive online platforms such as EasyLlama. This will make the employees feel safe within the workplace.
Companies should also overcome the challenges by updating their harassment policies and make it clear that:
- Sexual harassment will not be condoned or allowed in the workplace.
- Anyone who complains of sexual harassment has the right to report the incident following the correct procedure and the employer must take immediate and appropriate action.
- Any retaliation or victimization of an employee who complains of sexual harassment is a disciplinary offense.
- Define sexual harassment as unfair discrimination based on sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
Diversity and inclusion is an emotionally charged topic that invites heated debates amongst people. Some people usually make negative assumptions about what diversity actually entails, all the while completely ignoring the whole issue.
People prefer to focus on what unites people (inclusion) rather than what divides them (diversity). This is because, by focusing on inclusion, we avoid the stigmatization of small groups and individuals while concentrating on making the workplace better.
Recommended reading: Discover more effects of diversity in a workplace here.
The generation gap
Ageism in the workplace is a growing concern. The retirement ages are rising in many parts of the world as the world's population is aging.
Age discrimination affects an individual's career, making it difficult for them to advance in their careers. Add gender and cultural discrimination to ageism and a woman of color hits the discrimination trifecta.
A Financial Times article found that women over 40 who took a break from their careers to have families are penalized. It is usually difficult for them to get back into the workforce as their experience and their work hiatus are questioned.
Young people are also affected by ageism. Their experience and level of knowledge are usually questioned. Many young people are not given the opportunities to progress in their careers especially if those in senior management positions are from a different generation.
Ageism is typically underreported as it is difficult to prove. This does not make it any less illegal, however.
The same way that people approach issues of gender and culture is the same way that the issue of ageism should be handled. This is the only way that the problem of ageism can be solved in the workplace. The career progression of an individual should not be curtailed due to their age.
The gender pay gap
According to the Census Bureau, which looks at the annual pay of full-time employees, the average woman worker gets paid 82 cents for every dollar that a man is paid. This disparity is as a result of the gender-based discrimination that women face in the workplace.
There's a substantial presence of women in essential jobs. But, despite this fact, the disparity between total median earnings for women and men exists across these essential occupations.
Gender wage gaps are strikingly persistent in economic data. However, at the lower end of the wage distribution, there is a much greater parity. This is because labor market policies and minimum wage policies create a wage floor.
Despite the fact that women have been pursuing higher education, working longer hours and their participation in the labor force has increased tremendously in the last century, there are still significant wage gaps between men and women. And while generally women earn less than men, the gap is wider for women of color.
Immigrant and transgender women-those living in intersectional realities- have their earnings negatively by multiple biases. It does not help matters that these women are often left out of the broader conversation due to inadequate data.
There is a multitude of factors that drive the wage gap. They include but are not limited to:
This type of discrimination thrives in workplaces that discourage the open discussion of wages. These gag orders leave the employees fearing retaliation in the form of losing their jobs.
Employers also discriminate in pay by relying on prior salary history in compensation and hiring decisions. They may also make explicit decisions to pay women less.
Despite being illegal since the 1960s, gender-based pay discrimination is still a widespread practice that is worse for women of color.
Discrimination in specific industries
Gender norms and societal expectations play a huge role in occupational segregation. Jobs that have historically had a majority of female workers such as secretarial positions and medical aides tend to pay less than the so-called men's jobs such as tech-based jobs.
These gendered differences cut across all levels starting from the top to the lowest employee in all industries.
The differences in experience and hours worked
Women tend to work fewer hours to accommodate their unpaid obligations such as housework and caregiving. They are disproportionately driven out of the workforce to accommodate these obligations, meaning that they will work fewer hours than their male counterparts, affecting their work experience as well.
Without access to paid family leave means they take money out of their pockets to cater to the financial needs they may encounter while out on leave. This does not motivate them to return to work sooner.
It is worthy to note that the gender pay gap is directly and indirectly influenced by discrimination based on gender and ethnicity or race. This is seen in how structural and societal sexism influences the jobs that women work in, unconsciously assigning the woman caregiving and housework responsibilities.
Diverse representation in marketing
Inclusive representation is crucial for clients as they are most likely to boycott a product if they feel that their identity is not represented in marketing and promotional material.
How your business or company looks to the public is important to the bottom line.
The images used to promote a business should be able to target a diverse audience. Photos that feature a diverse range of imagery are a good place to start.
It is one thing for a company to say that they care about diversity and inclusion and it is another to actually show it. in the business world, companies that target varied audiences with their marketing campaigns gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
The safest and best way to ensure that diversity is effective in the workplace is when we let it come about naturally. Management with the help of the human resources department should highlight the qualities of embracing and managing diversity at work. This will enable the employees to slowly embrace it and it will soon become the norm. If the concept of diversity and inclusion is forced, people will be more opposed to the idea and build up resentments which, in extreme cases, eventually lead up to hate crimes.
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are numerous. When we foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we cast aside our prejudices and take the chance to hire and work with people with varied experiences and useful skills, adding them to our talent pool.