The typical office environment is seldom a unicultural place anymore. As the workplace grows and globalizes, so does the background and culture of its employees. Promoting diversity and cultivating a healthy relationship with all members of your staff is an important step in running a successful business.

It's also an important part of building a successful professional relationship with your employees by understanding and celebrating their history.

Why workplace diversity matters

Not only is promoting diversity in the workplace an effective opportunity to open new doors and creative outlets among your staff, but it also helps your business stay competitive in an ever-globalizing economy, according to Sophia Kerby and Crosby Burns of the Center for American Progress.

It has a number of benefits in your workplace, not only for your team, but for your future in the marketplace, including:

  • Diverse workplaces can capture a greater example of the consumer market. Not only is the office becoming more diverse, but so is the myriad of consumers. A diverse office opens opportunities to understand the various viewpoints of consumers
  • Diversity increases productivity. According to Workplace Diversity: A Managers Guide to Solving Problems and Turning Diversity Into a Competitive Advantage by Katherine Esty, productivity is best when management and staff welcome diverse opportunities
  • Protect your business from turnover. Promoting diversity can help prevent lawsuits and increase advertising and marketing opportunities, recruitment and more

In a competitive market like ours today, encouraging workplace diversity and implementing it to your business is important. It also opens a great opportunity to expand the experience and professional relationships for your staff.

Remember, diversity isn't just the color of skin. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Disabilities and handicaps are diverse.
  • Religious practices are diverse.
  • Ethnic backgrounds are diverse.
  • Lifestyle choices are diverse.
  • Gender, too, can be considered diverse.

Promoting diversity is also an excellent practice for differentiating your company from the competition. According to the Center for American Progress, by 2050, no racial majority will exist in the United States, meaning businesses can find the best benefit by embracing diversity today.

Promoting diversity in the workplace

Promoting diversity in the workplace should be an enjoyable and efficient experience for your staff and should leave a lasting impression of your business and its worth in the marketplace.

According to an executive order from the Obama administration issued in 2011, the federal government's policy on diversity is a chance '... to realize more fully the goal of using the talents of all segments of society.'

Fortunately, diversity offers great opportunities for further staff development, including:

  • Training-Diversity training is a great tool to help show your staff how diversity in the workplace can benefit everyone's experience and productivity. Ongoing training helps decrease discrimination and harassment among employees
  • Management-Creating positions and opportunities for leadership roles is already a great way to promote productivity in the workplace, but it's also an excellent place to expand ideas and creativity in management by including diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Open Communication-Encouraging your employees to speak openly about their feelings in the workplace is vital to the shift toward more diversity. A safe environment is a common goal for all employees-and will be for management, too
  • Events and Activities-Promoting diversity through ongoing events and attention to various backgrounds, lifestyles and ethnicities in the office can also help increase morale among all employees

Creating an open workplace where diversity is celebrated is something you can share with all employees, starting with the employee handbook. Using our guide, you can develop an effective employee handbook.

Recruiting diversity into your business

As expected of most employers, employees should be hired based on their experience and fit for a position, not on their ethnicity, race or gender. Federal law prohibits companies from discriminating job candidates from applying for a position. It's also important that you open your company's doors to diverse applicants.

Some great ways to reach out to various applicants include:

  • Clearly defined employment agreements, which will outline ways to help increase diversity in the workplace-and your dedication to the goal. These documents help define rights and obligations of the employer or employee
  • Thorough employment offer letters, which confirms the terms and conditions of employment verbally discussed with the employee
  • Utilize the benefits of an employee evaluation form, in which you can help gather information about staff or potential employees to prevent discriminatory hiring practices
  • Widen your scope of recruiting. Encourage staff members of all backgrounds to invite friends or family to apply for open positions. Offering language training to potential employees who do not speak English as a first language can also greatly increase your diversity pool

Encouraging friendly, personal relationships between your staff will help increase morale and productivity, while spreading the benefit of backgrounds to everyone.

Most importantly, open up lines of communication for your staff to better get to know one another. While gender or race often come to mind when diversity is discussed, it actually can include just about anything that makes each of us unique.