Diversity and Compliance in the Workplace

 Diversity and compliance in the workplace 

Businesses that do not recruit from diverse talent may have a more difficult time filling key roles and are missing out on qualified candidates. Having a diverse workforce with bi-lingual employees from varying ethnic backgrounds enables people to collaborate, fuel creativity, and enhance talent. Teams will benefit from improved productivity, tolerance, and communication, which can bring better results for the company as a whole.  

Creating a diverse workplace is a requirement for federal contractors but is a wise practice for all businesses. I am going to help you get a clear understanding of what diversity, inclusion, and compliance is to help you create a diverse workplace atmosphere where employees feel respected and accepted. 

Diversity 

Diversity is not merely about race, ethnicity, and gender. Diversity refers to the individual characteristics attributed to a person that represents race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual preference, age, interests, background, levels of educational achievement, socioeconomic statuses — and the list goes on.

We are living in a time when five generations are working together in the workplace. People aren’t retiring at the usual retirement age due to various factors, including financial hardship, and the newer generations coming into the workplace have a different work ethic and communication style. If handled correctly, the differences between the generations can be used to benefit the culture of the company.

Federal agencies are focused on ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access during all phases of employment. Legislative changes are also in place to protect the LGBTQ population. When recruiting, it is beneficial to consider the protected classes and find a way to reach those demographics. It’s also imperative that you determine if your organization has a work environment that is inviting and inclusive to employees within protected groups, and if you have policies and procedures that will support them.  

Diversity isn’t just about how individuals identify themselves but also how others in the workplace perceive them. It is essential to educate employees on cultural sensitivity and how to coexist with a diverse range of people. Sensitivity training can help employees become more self-aware and understand their own cultural biases and prejudices. Creating a diverse workforce brings more opportunities for innovation to your business and the ability to reach all demographics of customers.  

Inclusion

Inclusion refers to how employees working in diverse environments feel their co-workers and managers are treating them. It is also important for employees of protected classes to feel they have the opportunity to grow within the company and advance up the corporate ladder. Inclusion measures how fair and collaborative the interactions and practices are within your workforce, including recruitment, training, incentives, promotions, mentoring, and company opportunities.

Promoting inclusion in teams can help break down preconceived notions and cultural misunderstandings and let employees get to know one another on an individual basis. Management must make sure employees are not just treated fairly, but feel comfortable contributing their unique ideas and experiences. Behavior or complaints regarding discrimination need to be taken seriously and addressed immediately. Failing to address discrimination in the workplace is a violation of EEO Laws and will cost you time, money, and the potential loss of key players in your business. Make sure the company’s discrimination policy includes the procedure for voicing concerns and complaints and is easy for employees to understand the process and possible outcomes of discrimination. 

Compliance

Compliance refers to ensuring that equal opportunity exists in all phases of employment, from recruiting and hiring to training and terminating. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has created laws and guidelines that businesses must follow or risk costly penalties and consequences. The Civil Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act are only a few examples of legislations used to determine regulations.  

Contractors or subcontractors doing business with the federal government are also required to abide by additional regulations enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Federal contractors are required to prepare an annual affirmative action program and engage in practices to attract qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans. The information is used for statistical analysis to monitor the necessary skill sets of the number of women and minorities employed in recruiting areas.

In conclusion, being an equal opportunity employer will widen your talent pool and bring more creativity and innovation into your business. Creating a company culture that celebrates diversity and encourages inclusion will increase employee morale and teamwork. Make sure discrimination policies and procedures are in place to protect employees and ensure a fair and respectful work environment.  Implementing a continuous training program to teach emotional intelligence, cultural differences and conflict resolution, is a proactive way to bridge diversity in the workplace and build a stable and productive workforce.