Establishing Diversity

Establishing inclusion and diversity in the workplace

In any situation in life individuals need to feel that they can be themselves. At work this is essential in order to get employees to engage fully into a team. In an effectively closed environment where a worker may fear reprisals if certain personal information is revealed it will impact negatively on their involvement and development in the organisation. Indeed, it can result in low morale, increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and retention issues.

Establish the starting point

For every organisation the starting point is different and unique. Managers and organisation leaders have a major role to play in setting the tone in any working environment and embracing the inclusiveness and diversity within.

In terms of helping to offer balanced, unbiased analysis of performance, Lanonyx call recording and logging systems can go a long way to ensuring that monitoring is both effective and consistent.

Open, effective communication that also offers opportunity for feedback is an essential foundation from which to build a platform. There should be standards and expectations, but also understanding. Understanding that no-one is perfect and that as long as mistakes are rectified and learned from, the workforce can move forward as united unit, growing stronger as they go.

Ideas for embracing diversity in the workplace –

  • Build relationships through understanding, taking an interest in the lives and cultural backgrounds of workers away from the workplace.
  • Create opportunities for employees to interact away from work.
  • Give staff the opportunity to plan their own social activities.
  • Be aware of culturally significant events and holy days. Also look to embrace other significant days such as
  • International day to end racism, gay pride events etc.
  • Work to a multicultural calendar to avoid planning meetings or other work duties on significant days.
  • Acknowledge all faiths present in the workplace.

To build inclusion for employees with disabilities workplaces should ensure that all staff can participate in and contribute to the progress and success of the organisation. They should also have input, when an employer identifies a need, into how an environment might be adapted to ensure inclusion.

Guidelines for increasing inclusion of employees with disabilities –

If an employee is blind or has a visual impairment

  • Identify yourself and anyone else with you
  • If you have met before, state the context of the previous meeting to jog the person’s memory
  • If you are speaking in a group, name the person to whom you are speaking
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice
  • Clearly indicate if you are moving from one place to another or the conversation has ended
  • Clear paths of obstacles
  • Describe the surroundings to advise the person of their environment. For example, say ‘There is a chair one metre to your right.’ or ‘Step down.’ or ‘The door is to your right.’ or ‘There are some obstacles in front of you on the left’
  • If offering to act as a guide, invite the person to take your arm and walk about a half a step ahead of the person. Then listen or ask for instructions
  • If appropriate, offer to read written information
  • Guide dogs are working dogs: speaking or interacting with the dog is distracting and inappropriate
  • Plan ahead to allow adequate time to prepare printed material in alternate formats (e.g. Braille, large print, audiocassette, or digital format)

If an employee is deaf or hard of hearing –

  • When securing sign language interpreter services, specify the language(s) required
  • Attract the individual’s attention before speaking
  • Speak clearly and at a pace that allows the sign language interpreter to interpret for the person who is deaf and to allow this person to respond through the interpreter
  • Don’t shout
  • Consider captioning
  • Write notes or use gestures for one-on-one discussions
  • Face the person to facilitate lip reading. Keep hands and other objects away from your lips when speaking
  • Speak clearly, slowly, and directly to the person, not to the interpreter
  • Don’t assume that the individual knows sign language or can read lips
  • Reduce or eliminate disruptive background noises (e.g. tapping pens or shuffling paper), since amplification devices are very sensitive to ambient noise. Converse in a quiet environment, or move to one, in order to facilitate communication

If an employee has a physical disability

  • Rearrange furniture or objects in a room to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility aids
  • Avoid leaning on someone’s mobility aid
  • If you need to have a lengthy conversation with someone in a wheelchair consider sitting so that you can make eye contact
  • Know your workspace. Be aware of what is accessible and not accessible to people who use mobility aids
  • Push someone in a manual wheelchair only when asked
  • Give directions that include distance and physical obstacles. (For example, you might give a location as 20 metres away, or mention that there are stairs or a curb or a steep hill)

If an employee has a developmental or learning disability

  • Offer and provide needed assistance
  • Repeat information when necessary
  • Speak directly to the person and listen actively
  • Use plain language
  • Provide one piece of information at a time
  • Ask the person to repeat the message back to you to confirm they understand
  • Be patient as some may take longer to process information and respond
  • Try to provide information in a way that takes into account the person’s disability

If an employee has a language or speech impediment

  • Be patient – don’t interrupt or finish the individual’s sentences
  • Don’t assume that an individual with a speech impairment also has another disability
  • Try to allow enough time to communicate with the individual as they may speak more slowly

If an employee has a mental health illness

  • Get to know the person so that you can include the individual in social or organisational events
  • Be confident, calm and reassuring
  • If the individual appears to be in crisis, ask them to tell you the best way to help
  • Help in crowded, noisy environments or high-stress situations

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