As the debate around racism catches traction in the news with celebrities speaking up about #OscarsSoWhite and spreading awareness of its harmful effects on a global scale, let us not forget that racism is prevalent all over our world, and has an impact closer to home and on workplace harmony.
As managers, we all know how difficult it can be to discuss racism in the workplace, but here are a few supportive ways you might consider embracing your diverse workforce by incorporating the following into your employee programs.
Providing a workspace that openly recognizes and respects diversity creates a welcoming environment while discouraging racism and other forms of discrimination. You can engage your staff in some or all of the following ways to celebrate various cultures in your workplace:
- Recognize and acknowledge special culture days and events such as Black History Month in February.
- Have a “Win a Lunch” draw at a local restaurant for Chinese New Year.
- Have your EAP provide diversity training to learn about the cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees outside of the workplace. Building relationships through increased understanding and trust helps to promote inclusion.
- Hold a Lunch-and-Learn on different cultures with the ethnic cuisine of the featured culture.
- Include opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that employees feel more comfortable. Be creative, flexible and look for new ways of socializing and team-building.
- Ensure all employees have the opportunity to take part in decision-making and planning for social activities.
- Ensure your company’s marketing and communication collateral incorporates multi-racial images, through brochures and your website to posters around the office.
- Be aware of and provide time off for culturally significant events. Consider offering a float day for employees to use at their discretion to participate in such events.
Honouring others’ differences will build a better, stronger team of employees. In workplaces that take the time for celebrating various cultures, people form stronger bonds with one another, learn tolerance, and develop greater loyalty toward the company. When hiring practices focus on ensuring a diverse employee pool, you find increased levels of resourcefulness, determination, and persistence.
Taking steps to support multiculturalism in your workplace will help keep your employees feeling safe while building a positive work environment. Celebrating diversity helps in preventing the issue from becoming a major problem.