Academic Desk


Workforce Diversity Visible, Safe andValued

I believe, after 20-plus years in the workforce including internal and external consulting, that people are all just people. And my four academic degrees, both practical and theory-based, support that understanding: people are all just people. We all want a few basic things out of our workplace experience, and we all have specific expectations to fulfill the psychological contract. Those things may relate to satisfying basic needs (Maslow or four-drives theory) or they may have more to do with motivation (equity theory or Effort-Performance-Outcomes) or even organizational commitment (affective, normative, continuance). But what it all boils down to is that people of all types, all backgrounds, salaried or hourly, management or individual contributor, basically want and need to feel seen, safe, and valued. Granted, what it takes for a black Christian woman, an Asian Buddhist man, or a blonde Muslim woman to feel seen, safe and valued may differ. And those are just a few of the dimensions of diversity that consultants and leaders in all kinds of organizations need to be aware of and address. There are two categories of diversity: surface-level and deep-level. Surface-level diversity is based on the clearly visible variables that may draw attention or indicate a point of difference: gender, race, age, physical disabilities, and ethnicities or religions that require outward displays of identity fall into this category. Men and women, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, over 40 or under 30,Hasidic Jew or Sunni Muslim woman in a hijab , wheelchair-bound or

But to take diversity seriously, we must acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of thought and of expertise that our employees bring to the shared environment that we call work. Simultaneously, consideration of major religious holidays and practices, or special dietary restrictions at company functions, can go far toward making all employees feel seen. Instituting zero- tolerance policies for all forms of harassment (verbal, physical, and sexual) helps employees to feel safe, as does banning controversial personal, religious and political dialogues. Banning or monitoring dialogues might sound extreme, but it may preserve peace and productivity in your workplace. Another option is to issue internal statements that make it clear where you as the Executive stand, and where the company stands, on specific issues. For example, issuing a statement about a current event or tragedy affecting a segment of your workforce might help your employees feel valued, because it indicates that you recognize the impact of the event and you care about the people affected - or perhaps a statement about the company’s apolitical stance in the wake of controversial geopolitical action or during a heated political campaign. Nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to political winds, and those who work in nonprofits may have very clearly defined political leanings. But to honor diversity and make all employees feel seen, safe, and valued, you might consider moderating the on-hours rhetoric about the President, the Boy Scouts’ latest policy, Iran, Israel, etc.

missing a limb – all of these may be seen.They may also enable the individual to contribute a unique perspective on workplace tasks and effectiveness. They lend an additional layer to the individual’s discernment regarding business development, ideal prospects, client or customer service needs, supply chain management, or accessibility. But deep-level diversity is just as important. This is the diversity of socio-economic background, religion, political leanings, sexual orientation, gender, and other unseen factors that may influence how work policies and practices affect your employees. Additionally, all of these diversity factors will influence how your employees deal with contemporary geopolitical and social events, as well as organizational actions and statements, and how your employees process them in the workplace. Diversity is defined as the condition of having or being composed of differing elements, especially the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization. Over the last thirty years, diversity has become a business buzzword. I’ve worked closely with D & I (diversity and inclusion) corporate professionals who were responsible for business conduct, ethics, and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). Often, that person was a member of a minority group (that’s a different conversation).

32 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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