You have a key role in transforming the organizational culture so that it more closely reflects the values of our diverse workforce. Some of the skills needed are:
- an understanding and acceptance of managing diversity concepts
- recognition that diversity is threaded through every aspect of management
- self-awareness, in terms of understanding your own culture, identity, biases, prejudices, and stereotypes
- willingness to challenge and change institutional practices that present barriers to different groups
It's natural to want a cookbook approach to diversity issues so that one knows exactly what to do. Unfortunately, given the many dimensions of diversity, there is no easy recipe to follow. Advice and strategies given for one situation may not work given the same situation in another context.
Managing diversity means acknowledging people's differences and recognizing these differences as valuable; it enhances good management practices by preventing discrimination and promoting inclusiveness. Good management alone will not necessarily help you work effectively with a diverse workforce. It is often difficult to see what part diversity plays in a specific area of management.
To illustrate, the following two examples show how diversity is an integral part of management. The first example focuses on the area of selection, the second example looks at communication:
- How do you make the job sound appealing to different types of workers, such as people with disabilities?
- How can recruitment be effectively targeted to underutilized groups?
- How do you overcome cultural bias in the interviewing process, questions, and your response?
- Specify the need for skills to work effectively in a diverse environment in the job, for example: "demonstrated ability to work effectively in a diverse work environment."
- Make sure that good faith efforts are made to recruit a diverse applicant pool, particularly underutilized minorities and women.
- Focus on the job requirements in the interview, and assess experience but also consider
- transferable skills and demonstrated competencies, such as analytical, organizational, communication, coordination. Prior experience has not necessarily mean effectiveness or success on the job.
- Use a panel interview format. Ensure that the committee is diverse, unit affiliation, job classification, length of service, variety of life experiences, etc. to represent different perspectives and to eliminate bias from the selection process. Run questions and process by them to ensure there is no unintentional cultural or institutional bias.
- Ensure that appropriate accommodations are made for disabled applicants.
- Know your own cultural biases. What stereotypes do you have of people from different groups and how well they may perform on the job? What communication styles do you prefer? Sometimes what we consider to be appropriate or desirable qualities in a candidate may reflect more about our personal preferences than about the skills needed to perform the job.