Cultural diversity in the work place is a fact of life for most, if not all, businesses. Many large companies already have policies in place to make sure that they provide a comfortable working environment for all of their employees.
The Coca-Cola Company is a fantastic example of a company that embraces diversity in the workplace. The company boasts over 92,000 employees, with upwards of 85% located in countries other than the United States. The Coca-Cola Company has an entire section of their website that is devoted to diversity statistics, reports, and policies.
While many large companies do already have policies and procedures in place regarding diversity, some smaller businesses may not. Perhaps these companies are small enough that they do not see the need for official “rules” regarding diversity, or maybe their business models are running smoothly and they perceive no need for change.
However, awareness is nearly always the key to success. Being aware of the different cultures that are represented in your company, no matter how large or small, is critical to having a workplace that is open, welcoming, and runs smoothly.
Here are some tips on how a small business can acknowledge diversity:
- Have an open line of communication with employees. Your employees should have no problem raising concerns or issues with any member of the management staff. It is important as a business owner to train management how to handle employees who come to them with issues, both personal and work-related. Your employees should feel safe when discussing any problem that arises. Some companies consider this an “open-door” policy, in that any employee should be able to come to any manager at any time without fear of retaliation or punishment. The more comfortable employees feel with their work environment, the more productive they will be.
- Offer team-building events and encourage employees to get to know their coworkers. The more people know about others around them, the more receptive they will be to embracing other cultures and learning about their peers. A great rapport with coworkers makes for a generally healthy and happy work environment. A good example of team-building would be something as simple as arranging a potluck lunch for employees. This gives everyone a time to interact and perhaps even sample food from different cultures.
- Go above and beyond what is required. All businesses should be familiar with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and implement the policies that are required by law. Most companies also choose to have a written harassment policy. In the past, policies regarding harassment have focused on sexual harassment. Currently, many harassment policies have been broadened to include any type of intimidating behavior in the workplace. Having these policies and taking them seriously should encourage employees to report any harassment or discriminatory behavior from colleagues. Addressing these issues promptly will make for a more comfortable work environment for everyone.
Everyone can make an effort to promote diversity in the workplace. Many people think of this as the job of management and HR, but employees can help make the workplace comfortable for everyone as well. Something as simple as taking the time out to ask a coworker how they are doing can go a long way towards promoting a productive and welcoming office environment.
This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She has spent time working for major media news outlets in Dallas and Houston.