A culturally diverse workforce is often an advantage for an employer. But there can be some issues. While it’s rare, mixing people from different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and sexes can lead to conflict in the workplace. Hortica Retail Sales Specialist Maria Shepherd discovered a few things to look out for—and how you can protect yourself.
In the July 26th issue of the Society of American Florists e-brief, author Simma Lieberman pointed out three potential difficulties with a diverse workforce that a business owner should consider and understand. And once you’re aware of them, you can maximize the benefits of diversity.
You have a diverse workforce, but people aren’t talking to each other
It’s common for employees to spend time with people who share a similar background when they’re away from work. That means your workplace may be one of the first times they interact with people from different cultures. They often know little about each other and are hesitant to ask for help or share resources—nobody wants to offend anyone by saying something wrong.
You can help by bringing your employees together for problem-solving meetings and have them work in small, diverse groups. Be sure they get to know a little about each other before starting on a problem. You may be a smaller operation that meets as needed rather than having formally scheduled team meetings. Either way, making sure your employees work and communicate well together helps everyone get the job done better.
Most workplaces have people work by demographics and rarely interact or work together
Often, employees are grouped culturally by the jobs they do—from accounting and research and development to customer service. In a flower shop or design studio, this can be anyone from the designers and sales people to the drivers. This leaves your workers reluctant to help those from other groups and departments, making it easier for conflict to arise. Rather than working together, they blame the problem on the fact that the other is from a specific culture or department.
Lieberman says there are ways you can help resolve this issue:
- Involve more people in the decision-making when hiring to eliminate bias
- Have your employees interact with other departments to help them be more comfortable when working with different people
- Help your leadership team be better leaders, spending more time with employees and getting to know them as individuals
- Use diversity and inclusion training—including cross-cultural and cross-functional dialogues
- Move employees to different departments where possible
Your diversity is most visible at the lowest level, while higher levels are more monocultural
It’s common for leadership to not understand how to handle diversity management and innovation, and how it can impact innovation at lower levels.
The best solution is to develop a broader vision to redefine diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Watch for unconscious and conscious biases when you do your hiring and promotions. Be sure to let everyone know about the opportunities to advance.
Using EPLI coverage to protect your business
While you can address and take action to ease diversity problems in your workplace, there may be times when the friction can’t be eased. If you’re concerned about the possibility of a clash of cultures or sexes among the staff or management, you might want to make certain you have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) coverage built into your current business policy. It typically includes wrongful termination, hiring practices, sexual harassment and racial discrimination coverage. Check your business owner’s policy package policy today to see if you have this important coverage.
If you have any liability questions when it comes to your business or workforce, give one our agents a call. We’re happy to help.
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