Inspiration

DIVERSITY IN THE MODERN WORKPLACE

diversity in the modern workplace

The idea of the modern workplace has changed considerably over the last two years.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned from working in-office to working from the comfort of our home. But despite these changes, one thing remains important. The need for workplace diversity.

According to research firm Abacus Data, 59 percent of Canadians have either witnessed discrimination in their workplace, experienced it themselves, or both. This includes two-thirds of women and millennials, and three quarters of those identifying as a visible minority.

With statistics like the one above, it’s clear having diversity in the workplace is essential. But what exactly is workplace diversity? And what does this look like in the modern workplace?

We’re here to discuss what workplace diversity is, and how to promote it in your place of work whether its face-to-face or virtual.

What is workplace diversity?

Workplace diversity is a workplace that has employees with different characteristics like sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.

A workplace prioritizing diversity will have a team comprised of people from different backgrounds and sections of society. It’s also a place where everyone is treated equally despite differences.

How does diversity fare with remote work?

What seemed like a temporary solution to reduce the impact of COVID-19 is becoming a long-term solution for businesses.

Remote and hybrid work models are now dominating workplaces and as they become the norm, it’s important to understand how these different models affect diversity.

In some ways, remote work can help eliminate biases. Working from home can be particularly valuable for many people with disabilities. Allowing people with disabilities to work remotely provides them with an opportunity to leverage their existing setup, which already meets their needs.

At the same time, remote work can lead some employees to feel excluded. Interactions that used to effortlessly take place in the workplace are missing and employees may start to feel disconnected from the group.

Gallup research shows spending too much time working remotely can lead to low employee engagement as it robs employees of the sense of connection we all yearn for as human beings.

Ways to promote workplace diversity in the modern workplace

Commit to virtual team building

Without time in the office, it’s essential to facilitate team-building opportunities and encourage interaction across the whole team. Some common ways to support positive interactions among employees include:

  • Hosting virtual social events like themed lunches
  • Introducing games that encourage interaction between team members
  • Assigning unfamiliar team members to work together

Give employees the platform

Remote workers may feel isolated. Creating and encouraging virtual Employee Resource Groups (ERG) can help employees feel heard.

These voluntary employee-led groups create an open forum for employees who share a common identity to support each other and build a sense of belonging.

Assess the success of your workplace’s diversity regularly

The work on ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace is never done. So, make sure to regularly check-in and report progress with the company. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • “Do employees feel valued?”
  • “What is the makeup of your senior management team?”
  • “Do we have a process in place for feedback?”
  • “What is the makeup of your overall workforce?”
  • “Are marginalized voices being heard?”

Tom Chopp is Managing Partner at SWS Warning Lights Inc. He can be reached at 905-357-0222 or tom@warninglightsinc.com

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