Celebrating Diversity in the Workplace
Most employers today have guidelines in place which not only protect against discrimination but also focus on celebrating diversity in the workplace. Studies have proven that employees in companies which celebrate diversity, rather than downplay it, feel more engaged and positive about their work. There are many ways that organisations can celebrate diversity, including in policies and procedures, through in-service and training, with formal programmes as well as informally in the workplace.
Celebrating Diversity in Policies and ProceduresAll employers must follow employment legislation aimed at reducing discrimination, but employers do not necessarily need to implement policies and procedures which go beyond this legislation. Enshrining a commitment to diversity in mission statements, offering information in multi-lingual formats, offering flexible working arrangements and extended maternity leave, providing appropriate areas for things like prayer, taking medications or pumping for nursing mothers, and ensuring that equipment and access for those with different ability levels are as available as possible are all ways in which companies can prove a commitment to celebrating diversity. It is easy to write up policies and procedures which say that these extra items are available, but making sure that these words turn into actions which are respected and protected throughout the company is the real proof of a commitment to celebrating diversity.
Celebrating Diversity Through In-Service and TrainingMaking sure that all employees understand discrimination, why it is wrong and why diversity is important to any organisation is another way to celebrate diversity in the workplace. In-service and training not only proves to employees the company’s commitment to diversity but also lets them know that everyone in the workplace is expected to be involved and engaged on the issue. Generally this type of training involves defining diversity, discussing how diversity positively affects all employees, exploring how discrimination of any kind negatively affects all employees, becoming familiar with vocabulary which is appropriate and vocabulary which is not, enumerating the steps in the company’s policies regarding discrimination and familiarising all employees with preferred techniques and methods when confronted with inappropriate behaviours. Employees of all levels of seniority should be involved in this type of training.
Celebrating Diversity With Formal ProgrammesCelebrating diversity often becomes “real” for employees with actual celebrations in the workplace. Formal programmes, such as designating a week or month for celebrating different types of diversity, often provide a bit of fun for everyone. Trivia games, lucky dips, special catered food, information sheets on a given topic, fact of the day memos or emails, fundraising days and even off-site events like golf tournaments and gala balls can all go a long way towards keeping the topic of diversity on everyone’s mind while letting everyone have a little fun with it.
Celebrating Diversity Informally in the WorkplaceEmployers may not be able to order employees to celebrate diversity informally in the workplace, but they can encourage this type of celebration when it does occur. For example, employees who get together to form a film club exploring other cultures could be offered a screening room during lunch hour once a month. Surveys could be taken to find out if new items should be offered on lunch menus. Sub committees which organise events for employees could be re-arranged to include employees of all levels and experience. These actions do not necessarily need to be formal or announced as a method to celebrate diversity, but rather undertaken as a matter of course to take advantage of the many different skills and viewpoints within the organisation.
Celebrating diversity in the workplace should positively affect all employees. Policies and procedures, in-service and training, formal programmes and informal actions are all methods through which diversity can be celebrated in the workplace.