R.E.S.P.E.C.T. - Golden Rules for Managing Diversity

It has become common knowledge for companies that diversity isn't only something you promote as a lip service to positively shape your company's image but that diverse teams are actually more productive than teams where members are very similar to each other. But how do you as an HR manager encourage and foster diversity in your organization?

In other words: What are the ingredients that make up the perfect recipe of creating and maintaining a diverse staff mix? If you want to come up with the most memorable answer, you can sum it up with one word: respect.

Respect, of course, is important as an attitude towards people who are different than you - but in this context, it is more than that: You can use this word as an acronym (a word composed of the first letters of other words) to remember important aspects of enabling diversity in your company:

R is for removing barriers. Make sure people can live up to their full potential by removing any obstacles that may be in their way: If a young mother needs to pick up her child from daycare at a certain time, have a flextime system in place that allows her to do so.

E is for employment. During your recruitment process, pay attention to how candidates are selected and, if there is more than one suitable person, try to enhance the diversity of your staff with your new recruits.

S is for systematic principles. This means that you shouldn't only have fairness and equal opportunity written down somewhere in a mission statement but that those values are reflected in every-day processes within your company: Who gets promoted? What do you offer in terms of training and development?

P is for planning. Diversity isn't something that just happens: It needs to be a concept, and you as a Human Resources specialist are responsible for the development, the implementation, and the continuous improvement of that concept.

E is for empathy. In order to create the best possible working environment for every employee, you need to be able to understand their individual challenges and needs. Only then you can begin to help them become an even more valuable member of your organization.

C is for creating versatile workplaces. Studies show that diverse teams are more productive - you can maximize on this phenomenon by creating flexible team structures, supporting interdisciplinary project teams, and encouraging job rotation.

T is for talent. If you have an appraisal system in place that evaluates the talent and abilities of individuals and that teaches people managers to disregard any discriminatory factors (such as gender, age, sexual orientation, or ethnicity), this will go a long way in fostering a diverse working place.

There you have it. Of course, you could add other important aspects to this list - but this is a good starting point, plus: It's easy to remember.

Do you have questions? Or would you like to add something? Let us know in the comment box below.

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