By Cyndie Demming
Jerome Nathanson commented, “The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people’s differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience“.Embracing Diversity … Critical to Organizational Success is this year’s theme for Administrative Professional Week celebrated April 22 – 28, 2012. The focus therefore is on encouraging diversity in the work place for increased performance. The theme simply speaks to, the acceptance of differences which is necessary to organizational achievement.
Diversity is a broad term, one that speaks to differences in race, gender, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or nationality. Workplaces have become far more diverse over the past decades than at any other time in history. There are a number of reasons for this increase in diversity, including anti-discrimination laws and a changing workforce. In addition, an increasingly multicultural world contributes to workplace diversity. Diversity and inclusion then is not just a policy statement as echoed by the President of the Caribbean Association of Administrative Professional. It is:
1. Core Values
2. Business Imperatives
3. Investment in people
4. Key drivers of creativity and innovation
Diversity has many positive effects when people of different cultures work together, the organization benefits from a wider range of perspectives, opinions and experiences. However, misunderstanding and challenges can arise if coworkers do not embrace diversity or if employees are unable or unwilling to accept and embrace differences. Such differences include but are not limited to:-
• Age Discrimination
• Persons with disability and
• Multi culturalism
Some benefits of diversity are:-
1. Increase in different perspectives and ideas
2. Those from different races, religion, cultures or sexes may have different experiences or ways of addressing issues
3. These differing cultural beliefs and backgrounds can provide a perspective that allows a business to grow and expand
4. Can contribute to problem solving as people view situations from their own unique backgrounds and brainstorm ideas that may have never been considered
Are there any risks involved?
1. Diversity becomes an issue when employees or employers do not embrace differences and look for similarities
2. People from different cultures may not understand each other’s customs or beliefs
3. Some employees may resent being faced with diversity
4. While the regulations that brought diversity to the workforce typically provide protection for workers against hostile work environments, it is up to the employers to ensure that individual employees know how to work together. Sensitivity training and education about different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs may be essential in creating a harmonious workplace made of diverse individuals
The National Association of Administrative Professionals values and encourages diversity and inclusion as a vehicle to major behavior changes through treating diverse views, cultures and communities with respect, learning from the variety of different cultures, countries, functions and teams within an organization and acknowledging different approaches and seeking win/win solutions. I leave you then to consider that diversity exposes us to new ideas, cultures and perspectives which will positively transform our personal and professional development, and ultimately shape the success of the organization to which we serve.
P Cyndie Demming, MHRM, MBA, MPA is an Executive Assistant/Super Service Trainer, and
Commissioner for Oaths