How to embrace diverse personalities and values in the workplace

Diversity is commonly understood to refer to visible differences, but it encompasses a much broader range of characteristics within the workplace.
By: | January 19, 2023

Diverse workplaces provide a more welcoming environment, are more productive, and have higher employee retention rates, but what do organisations really understand about diversity?

Despite what is commonly espoused about diversity, very few organisations have actually achieved benefits through current diversity approaches, said Steven Smith, Professor of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University; Katelynn Carter-Rogers, Assistant Professor of Management, Indigenous Business, St. Francis Xavier University; and Vurain Tabyuma, Associate Professor, Sobey School of Business Management, Saint Mary’s University.

Writing for The Conversation, the authors pointed out the two limitations of addressing diversity from a visible perspective. First, visible diversity may not result in people being diverse in meaningful ways for organisations. A second limitation is that people may be diverse in ways that are not clearly visible and difficult to observe and identify.

According to them, a visible diversity-only approach hinders organisations from achieving the full benefits of true diversity and can result in organisations becoming less diverse in their attitudes and beliefs. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon, including group polarisation and groupthink, which can occur when similar people make decisions together.

To ensure diversity works within an organisation, leaders should create an inclusive climate where all voices are heard, and everyone is encouraged to express themselves and contribute. Also, inclusive leaders are needed to create workplaces that support employee authenticity and encourage dialogue about differences.

READ: Promoting workplace diversity and fairness in Singapore

The authors also recommended that organisations create a culture where employees feel comfortable working with people of different personalities and perspectives to work effectively. An environment of this type encourages employees to be honest about their strengths and weaknesses, and employees can use their knowledge to assign tasks and provide support where necessary.