Workplace diversity goes beyond gender balance and extends to employing staff from different cultural backgrounds or people with disabilities. Leading organisation psychologist Scott Way offers five top tips on how SMEs can best do this.
Way says opening up a workplace to a wider variety of individuals can create an environment where innovation and creativity flourish and individual thinking is challenged and, ultimately, a more engaging workplace is built for all concerned.
“Providing employment opportunities for people with different backgrounds and capabilities is easier than you think and doing so avoids a homogenous workforce, which runs the risk of creating blind spots for the business,” Way explains.
Here are Way’s tips for creating a diverse workplace.
Be realistic about the role and who it might suit
Consider the operational requirements and expectations of the role and look for a candidate who will consistently satisfy these demands. These people may not always be the perfect or ideal candidate but the demands of the role may not require someone who is perfect in every way. In fact, none of us are perfect!
The induction is crucial
The first six to nine months are make or break and you have to make sure your new recruit has the right support within your business so that they are equipped to succeed. Too often companies provide minimal induction and training.
Consider other factors that might influence the new recruit’s success in the role
Access to public transport, whether they have the right clothing, or if their family supports them finding work can all impact on how the new recruit settles in.
Provide structured training
The training needs to be shaped to suit the individual, and the crucial thing is don’t assume any background knowledge. The investment you make as an employer in training will be repaid in spades when you have a capable, engaged and loyal worker.
Introduce formal diversity programs to the workplace
These bring the diversity to the surface and educate the entire workforce on disabilities, differences and cultures. Briefing sessions and simple activities like holding a lunch where food from an employee’s culture is served can be an icebreaker for staff and help celebrate the richness and different perspectives that we all bring to work.
Scott Way is Director of Adelaide-based PKF Organisation Development.
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