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Toronto Translators’ 7 Steps toward managing a diverse workforce.
In this series of workplace diversity articles, you will find 7 steps that can be taken in any organization in order to foster an environment of inclusiveness and diversity. We all want to feel safe, secure, and welcome at work. So, we should all learn how to manage diversity in the workplace.
Generally, diversity planning falls on the shoulders of upper-management but in actual fact the responsibility of being inclusive is everyone’s. Inclusion starts with our own attitudes. We show our attitude toward inclusion in the things we say (and don’t say) and our actions in the office or break room. We need to be mindful and sensitive to the feelings of others at all times.
This series of diversity in the workplace articles is not only for the management team of your organization. It is for anyone that would like to take steps toward improving the workplace environment for the betterment of all employees, as well as themselves. Ultimately, some of the steps in this book should be implemented by management level employees but this series will give anyone that background information as well as some insights in order to make sure that everyone can be part of the conversation so you can take steps toward better managing a diverse workforce.
In this article: Our first article in our series of workplace diversity articles focuses on starting a diversity committee and implementing a mentorship program. Let’s get started, shall we?
Step 1 – Start a Diversity Committee
A diversity committee is a great way to gain insight into the diversity issues faced by you and your co-workers and is the first step toward better managing a diverse workforce. Everyone should feel welcome to attend the first diversity committee meeting. After the initial meeting, short interviews should take place to determine interest and dedication to the goals of the committee. The committee members will be chosen according to these factors, along with company demographics to make sure every group is represented.
Electing a chair should be the first job of the committee. For the first committee meeting, usually referred to as the “ad hoc” meeting, a neutral chair should be used. It should be someone everyone will feel comfortable with. After the ad hoc meeting, when the committee is fully formed, members can volunteer to be the chair and from those volunteers, the committee can democratically select one to chair all future meetings. Additionally, a member should be designated to take meeting minutes, that is, notes about what has been discussed and decided on by the committee.
During the committee’s early stages, short-term and long-term goals should be decided on. These goals should be specific, realistic, and measurable. It is the only way you’ll be able to really measure your improvements in managing a diverse workforce. Here are two examples:
We should make sure that all employees feel represented in all management decisions
By this time next year, we will have all employee manuals translated into French, Spanish, and Tamil.
Which example best represents a “specific, realistic, and measurable” goal? You’re correct, example 2 does. Let’s talk about why.
In example 1, vague statements are made about employees feeling represented, no timeline is given, and it is unrealistic to expect the management team to consult all employees every time a decision needs to be made. Beyond all of that, how do we know when we have successfully completed this goal?
Example 2 takes a far different approach. First, there is a timeline; one year. Second, it specifically mentions that employee manuals need to be translated. Finally, it states three languages, presumably the ones voted as most needed, into which these manuals should be translated. You know you have reached your goal if by next year you have every employee manual translated into French, Spanish, and Tamil.
Creating Action Plans
After establishing the main goals of the diversity committee, you can create subcommittees to focus on different goals and their completion. Using the example above, you could create a subcommittee in-charge of the translation of company materials. That subcommittee would than create an action plan.
The action plan would consist of smaller milestones which eventually lead to the completion of the subcommittee’s task. For instance, the subcommittee in-charge of translations might first review all company manuals to make sure they are up-to-date and consistent with the changes that have been made in the company since they were first published. That would be the first step in their action plan. From there, they would have to make the necessary updates, find a language service provider, have the manuals translated, review the translations, and put the new manuals into production. These steps would all be part of the action plan. Of course, action plans need to be revised along the way to make sure they are compatible with new information that arises.
Along the way
As the committee forges ahead with its goals, you will undoubtedly face setbacks, including the loss and replacement of members, disruptions and postponements due to work fluctuations, and the like. These are all to be expected. What is important is that you keep your long-term goals in mind and find ways to achieve them.
Step 2: Mentoring
Mentoring is about helping empower all employees. It builds self-confidence, a solid support system, and encourages all employees to make use of their abilities. Although it can be time consuming, it is an amazing investment in you and your coworkers. From an employee standpoint, it can help traditionally underrepresented groups move up in the company by giving them an opportunity to learn from more senior members, build the confidence to go after promotions, and help them become part of the conversation about diversity issues. From an organizational standpoint, it helps make sure every employee is able to use their talents to help fulfill the missions of the organization.
Integrating a mentoring program takes planning, especially in established organizations. The most difficult aspect is the “buy-in” from senior staff. The senior staff members have to see this as a worthwhile initiative and must be willing to give their time to help mentor and develop employees. These mentors should apply to the program, be screened, and then trained using a professional mentor training program. The remaining staff members also have to “buy-in”. The easiest way to maneuver with current employees is to offer mentorship as an “opt-in” initiative. Never force anyone to join the mentorship program. The value of this type of program only reveals itself when both the mentor and the mentee are fully committed.
Measuring the success of your mentorship program is critical. One of the simplest ways to do this is to track internal movement within the company. If you find that those enrolled in the mentorship program are more likely to apply for promotions or take on extra responsibilities, I’d say your program is successful. You can also track dropout rates from the program as well as survey for participant’s attitudes toward the initiative. Any of the above methods will work, just make sure that you do take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make changes where necessary.
In 7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce (Part 2), We will discuss community outreach and Flexible Holidays. Follow our blog to make sure you don’t miss it.
Have any tips for managing a diverse workforce? Share them with us.