Due to the increase in globalization in today’s world, organizations are now becoming more diversified to remain competitive. The ability to maximize and capitalize on workplace diversity is important because of it benefits, but it also has its drawbacks.
In almost every workplace in the business world, diversity-related challenges exist. The most important aspect is how to deal with these challenges in a healthy way without affecting the organization and its employees at large. Workplace diversity challenges carry a considerable amount of power in determining the success of a company. In fact, challenges do improve the relationships between employees and promotes diversity, only if correctly handled. In cases where it is mishandled, a company may fall apart, face legal action or spend most of their time trying to resolve the conflicts rather than focus on being productive.
Below are some of the challenges of workplace diversity
Communication forms an important part in strengthening workplace diversity. A good point to note is that people have different ways on how they communicate which can sometimes be wrongly misinterpreted. For instance, in some cultures, they have a different way of greeting far from the common handshake we all know.
Bilka says, “In our culture we do not shake hands but we bow, unfortunately, this was wrongly interpreted and people saw me as an arrogant woman who is disrespectful and I got ignored most of the time. They don’t really understand
‘My name is Gina and I am from China, the biggest challenge I faced was trying to communicate with my fellow co-workers since I knew little English. Most of the time we never understood each other and at times they thought I was insulting them with my Chinese language. This really made my life so difficult until I decided to learn English.’
Employees negative attitudes and behaviors
The negative attitudes and behaviors by employees in the work environment can be another barrier. This may include discrimination, disrespect, stereotyping, and social prejudice, all which can affect the organization performance.
‘As long you have employees who are not ready to accept and embrace change even when you employ the best in the industry, you are likely to face resistance. I am from Africa and I did face all sorts of discrimination and stereotyping. Being a new member of the board of directors and an acting CEO of the company. It took me time to adjust until I learnt to ignore them. I gave them one valid reason and a great quote which changed everything. Sometimes you have to be harsh and bold to turn things around for the better.’
Competition in the work environment is healthy for the success and company’s productivity. Unfortunately, unhealthy competition can arise if employees cannot accept other cultures in the workplace. This leads to division and disunity especially when people prefer to work in seclusion. This results in a slow progress and tasks taking too long to be completed because there is lack of collaboration and teamwork in the workplace.
Lack of freedom
In any diverse work environment, employees need to take caution and be sensitive to others beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and race. The idea of cracking jokes about one’s culture is never acceptable. The problem with cracking jokes is that you may find it funny while on the other side it may be insulting to your co-worker. Even if there is freedom of speech, you should think before you talk or decide to share a story. The biggest challenge is that you are limited to doing what you love which may breed fear because no one wants to be judged or discriminated.
Increased conflicts and hostility
Employees will always feel threatened by any person with a different viewpoint if they are from another background. This can lead to unending disagreements and power struggles, which can create a bad political atmosphere in the work environment. If conflicts are unresolved, it negatively affects the organization
Increased training costs
Introducing new employees in the work environment means that an organization must heavily invest in training sessions, lectures, programs, and seminars to promote diversity in the workplace. To achieve unity, training sessions are essentials to teach employees and to familiarize themselves with to the work environment.To all managers, there are different methods to use when overcoming the challenges in workplace diversity. Managers should understand which one works best for their organizations.
To all managers, there are different methods to use when overcoming the challenges in workplace diversity. Managers should understand which one works best for their organizations.