The workplace has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. In the 1960s, workforce participation among women was less than 40%. Minorities made up a small portion of the workforce as well. This made it easy for homogenous workers to find common ground.
Today, the workforce is much more diverse. Millennials are the last generation where Caucasians will make up more than 50% of the workforce. Older men are forced to recognize the limits of their privilege and are obligated to change the way they communicate. Even younger men must find ways to adapt in order to be sensitive to the sentiments of their minority and female colleagues.
How Can You Build a More Cohesive Workplace
With the problems that arose in Virginia last month, as well as many other recent events, a lot of strain has been placed on relationships between people with different cultural backgrounds. Everyone needs to do their best to understand the challenges and build better rapport with each other. Of course, that is easier said than done, but there are a lot of steps we can take to make things easier.
Here are some things that need to be taken into consideration to create a workforce where everyone coexists in harmony.
Try to Be Aware of Internalized Feelings of Prejudice
In the 21st Century, few people consider themselves to be prejudiced. Most people feel that they are open and tolerant of everyone. However, deep down, many people hold onto certain privileges that they are reluctant to relinquish.
Managers need to be aware of this, both while looking at themselves and their subordinates. They need to be aware that some messages of hostility may be driven by unconscious bigotry and take steps to be more understanding.
At the same time, you don’t want to outright accuse anyone of discrimination, especially if their perspective isn’t intentional. However, you do want to try to help people see that the fallacies of their perspective in any particular case. It is a tight rope to walk.
Encourage Collaboration over Workplace Software
There are a lot of tools that make workplace communication more seamless and break down cultural barriers. Apps like Slack make dialogue between coworkers and management as simple as could be. One solution to combating discord among a team is to initiate anonymous Slack polling. If there is injustice in the workplace, but some may not feel courageous enough to speak out, an anonymous poll will alert management of the problem.
Don’t Be Dismissive of Other People’s Perspectives
Many Caucasian men like to consider themselves open-minded. However, they do not understand the challenges of minorities or women that have faced unrelenting discrimination over the years. They may be quick to look for other explanations for their perspectives or dismiss their concerns as being overly sensitive.
It is very important to make sure that everyone has a voice and that their experiences aren’t easily dismissed. Try to encourage everyone to understand things from their colleagues’ perspectives. It will be impossible for them to ever truly understand the challenges they have faced over the years, but they can at least make some headway and try to acknowledge the need to listen. Give insightful responses to their statements and try to understand how their experiences shape their perspective on the job.
Don’t Give Preferential Treatment to Anyone
While it is important to be understanding of different groups’ plight in the workforce, you must also be careful not to give them preferential treatment to show that you are understanding and open-minded. All employees need to be held to the same standard and given a fair hearing in any issues where a resolution is needed.
Open Ears are the Best Tools to Build an Understanding Workplace
The workplace is more diverse than ever before. It is important to be sympathetic to the challenges every employee faces. This is only possible if everyone actively listens to each other. They must hear the difficulties others faced with open ears and take the necessary steps to address them.