Diversity in the workplace has grown immensely in the past few years and will most likely continue growing for years to come. While most small business owners would love to fully embrace the concept of diversity and inclusion, they struggle to figure out exactly how they can go about creating a welcoming and productive environment for a diverse workforce.
The Current Workforce and Growth of Diversity
The general population is evolving and the selection pool is growing more diverse each year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current population throughout the country is:
- 76.5% White
- 18.3% Hispanic or Latino
- 13.4% Black or African American
- 5.9% Asian
- 1.3% American Indian or Alaska Native
- 2.7% Two or more races
The data is from 2019/2020. Looking at the data, population experts have theorized that the overall white population is steadily declining. They anticipate that the Caucasian population will continue decreasing while the working-age minority population continues increasing. It is predicted that by 2044, some demographics that have always been considered minorities will have become majority demographics and that by 2065 there will no longer be any minority groups in America.
As time passes, your workforce is likely to start to reflect the overall population. The best way to develop a welcoming and productive atmosphere for a diverse workforce is by enabling communication.
Managing Communication Problems
When your workforce grows more diverse, you are bound to encounter both language and cultural barriers. The trick is to be prepared for these challenges and have a plan in place that will help you and all of your employees navigate the more diverse workplace.
The first step is making sure you have a plan in place that simplifies communication and makes information more accessible.
This plan should include:
- Eliminating idioms from speech
- Keeping emails/memos/presentations simple
- Using illustrations
For more important information that is essential to employees, make sure to provide translated copies of documents. These types of documents could include:
- training manuals
- instructions for machinery
- employee contracts
- safety procedures
In addition to translating important materials, make sure to involve an interpreter at important meeting or training days with employees. Ensuring that all employees understand what is expected of them, how to do their job correctly, and how to stay safe, is all essential to a successful working environment.
Having someone come in to provide your workforce with useful information that will teach them how to be inclusive, can also be beneficial when there is a language barrier between employees. This instruction is often paramount when you're putting together a workplace that's both diverse and welcoming. It is also a key component in making sure your employees who are dealing with a language barrier feel like they are an important and valuable member of your team.
Encourage Cultural Education
Cultural barriers in a diverse workplace are often as challenging as language. Cultural differences can lead to hurtful misunderstandings that create tension in the workplace. Again, this is where taking a pro-active stance and having a plan in place is usually the key to successfully developing a diverse workforce.
With a plan in place, you can make it clear to your employees that when they encounter a cultural miscommunication, they should take issue directly to their human resources representative who will provide them with tools and resources needed to resolve the matter in a calm manner that leaves everyone happy.
When putting together cultural educational experiences for your workforce, make sure the entire experience feels inclusive and that no one feels like they are being put on the spot.
Here at Language Network, we understand the communication challenges of a diverse workforce. We are ready to meet with you and help you develop a plan for your agency to ensure inclusivity. Fill out the contact us page to schedule an appointment today!