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Best Practices for Managing Diversity-Related Conflicts in the Workplace

Conflict is something inherent to being human. Every time a person spends a lot of time with another, it is inevitable that small frictions or discrepancies may arise which, if not managed correctly, can become a big problem. If this happens with the couple, with the children, with the brothers and the friends, with more reason it happens at work. And it's not easy to handle diversity conflicts at work.

In an average working life of 45 years, with 40-hour work weeks, it turns out that we spend 12 years of our life working. Thinking about it coldly, at the end of our professional career it is possible that we have spent more time with our co-workers than with some members of our family. And, although touching is affectionate, it is also a source of conflict, so it should not be surprising that problems and quarrels arise in the workplace.

Diversity has many advantages for companies and for society. But we cannot ignore the fact that In a diverse work environment there is a greater risk of conflicts arising. The staff is made up of people who are very different from each other, and who are not always going to fit well in their ways of thinking and working.

Since the benefits of diversity far outweigh this small inconvenience, it is the responsibility of companies to take steps to manage conflicts that are related to this issue. We can assure you that there are more ways to do it than you usually think at first.

Table of Contents

Identify stereotypes and prejudices as a way to manage diversity conflicts

The company may have embraced diversity and inclusion and is a strong advocate of equal opportunity. But maybe your employees are not at the same point. For some of them it will not be easy to assimilate that they have to work with people who are outside the prototype to which they are accustomed.

That does not mean that whoever resists change is sexist, ageist, racist, etc. It just requires a adaptation period, and maybe a little training.

Let's imagine a fire station in which the 100% of the staff are men. Until now, few women had been interested in this profession. But little by little the number of those who take on the challenge of preparing for this tough opposition and get their position begins to grow. When that first woman arrives at an all-male park, it's somewhat uncomfortable for her, but also for the rest of her companions. Because maybe they have the feeling of not knowing very well how to treat the new team member, or perceive that it may not be up to the task.

Are time, experience and communication, which will allow the new addition to the fire department to feel fully integrated. Once her colleagues assume that there is no difference between her and the rest, everything will flow.

The mission of the company is ensure that there are no stereotypes or prejudices when it comes to receiving new members in the templates and, if so, work to kill them. 

Remove barriers to communication

The human being is a social being who needs to communicate. What's more, open and honest communication is often the best way to spot those kinds of stereotyping issues we talked about earlier, and start fixing them.

But, in addition, by removing barriers to communication we are promoting the correct integration of all team members. Isor act as protection against possible conflicts.

In this way, if we have a blind employee, we must ensure that from their first day of work they have specialized software and hardware that allows them to carry out their work in the most efficient way possible. The same if we have incorporated an employee who does not speak Spanish very well. In your case, in order to make things a little easier for you, it would be interesting if you could have access to the documentation you need to work translated into your native language. At the same time we must also reinforce their knowledge of Spanish with an intensive course.

Integration is an essential part of diversity, and to achieve it we have to ensure that all employees feel comfortable and Have your employment needs covered. If someone feels left out, the isolation situation will end up leading to a conflict sooner or later.

Create clear action procedures as a way to manage diversity conflicts

When a person belongs to a minority within a workforce that is more or less homogeneous, there is a greater risk that that worker or worker will be treated in a discriminatory wayeven if unconsciously.

The company has to be fully aware of this and remedy it, establishing a series of procedures for action that are transparent and clear. Thus, when a person feels that they are being treated unfairly, they will have at their disposal a complaints channel that will allow you to report what is happening.

Listening to those who have been discriminated against is absolutely necessary to end intolerance in the workplace. There are behaviors that those in charge may go unnoticed, but that are capable of causing great harm to those who suffer from them.

All staff members must be clear that they have a complaints channel at their disposal to report episodes that reflect unfair treatment, and even to propose suggestions in order to achieve greater diversity. What should also be clear is that the company will not admit intolerance at any level and will take measures in the event that it is verified that the denounced facts are true.

celebrate diversity

Celebrating diversity is one way that people know a little more about the reality of others who may not be within your most usual social circle. Organizing events for women's days, LGTBQ+ pride day, Down syndrome day, etc., is a perfect "excuse" to get together, get to know each other better and leave developing empathy.

It is not necessary to organize a big and expensive celebration, you can do something simple and symbolic that all the members of the staff feel comfortable with. 

Even the most prejudiced are curious about everyone who is different. This is an easy and very practical way of start breaking down those barriers that separate people.

Continue promoting diversity as a way to manage diversity conflicts

If there's one thing a company can never do when it comes to promoting diversity, it's putting it aside because conflicts have arisen. What you have to do is the opposite, keep working on it. Because the more diverse the workforce, the easier it will be for initial reluctance and mistrust to disappear.

The key to getting employees who break the prototype of the template is the following. First of all, end unconscious biases of those responsible for the selection. In second place, search for candidates through means or channels to which minority groups have access. 

A good way to increase diversity is to perform structured interviews, because they are the best way to get the same information from all the candidates. Objective data that can be easily compared and that sets aside stereotypes and prejudices.

Have a diversity manager

How do you face the great challenge of managing diversity if nothing like this has ever been done in the company? There is no master formula to do it well, but there are a series of practices, like the ones we are seeing, that can help.

Business managers, even HR specialists, don't have to handle this topic perfectly, so it doesn't hurt to have a little extra help. 

The figure of the diversity manager is becoming increasingly popular and there are already many companies that have him. He is a specialist capable of identify problems that may arise in relation to diversity management. Also, takes care of design and implement strategies Help make it a reality.

Acting on time as a way of handling diversity conflicts

It doesn't matter if the conflict is caused by a mismanagement of diversity or for another reason, one of the keys to resolving the situation in the best possible way is to act as soon as possible. 

you have to get that all those involved feel heard and understood, and that they are aware that whoever mediates does so from the most objective point of view possible. In the same way, the solution offered should also try to be fair and not excessively benefit one party in exchange for causing significant harm to the other.

If the conflict is resolved quickly and well, it will not stop being something merely anecdotal. On the contrary, if nothing is done, it can become entrenched, become increasingly serious, and even involve other members of the workforce. 

Diversity is not a source of conflict, the source of conflict is a mismanagement of diversity. Avoiding problems, or solving them as soon as possible in case they arise, is something that is in the hands of the company. Only then can you enjoy all the beneficial effects of having a diverse workforce.



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