Monday, February 18, 2008

Training for workplace diversity

Once upon a time, America was described as a melting pot. All the ingredients blended into one indistinguishable unit. Assimilation was the goal, and those who came from elsewhere attempted to blend into the stew as soon as possible.

Today, the image of a stir fry might be more apt. Each element retains its unique flavour, texture and shape. And yet all contribute to the completed dish.

In the face of proudly retained ethnicity, religious and lifestyle differences, today’s business leaders face the challenge of managing cultural, lifestyle, gender, and religious diversity in the workplace. Although it may appear to complicate effective team building, wise leaders know that workplace diversity can also enrich their organization.

From: Managing Religious Diversity in the Workplace

It is 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon. A 20-something associate completes a project on her laptop, sends it via e-mail to her supervisor, text messages a client on her cell phone, and then leaves for the day. Meanwhile, her 50-something colleague in the next cubicle, who never leaves the office before six o'clock, is grumbling about the poor work ethics of today's younger workers.

More than ever, workers from different generations are finding themselves in the same workplace, where their differing work styles are sometimes causing conflicts when it comes to communicating and completing tasks.

But managers who are able to accommodate, rather than overlook the different styles, will find different generations working side-byside offers many opportunities, too.

From: Minding the Gap: Generational Differences

Whether it's age, gender, religion, or ethnic origin, diversity is the reality in today's workplace. Managing that diversity is the task facing many Human Resource departments.

The realization that one size does not fit all in the workplace has spawned a variety of new training programs. No longer content with simple sensitivity training, today's HR trainers are developing and presenting programs that tap into the strengths of a diverse workforce.

Global market focus is allowing many companies to utilize the diversity in their labour force to reach and understand foreign markets and segmented domestic markets in new and effective ways.

How is your company addressing the challenges and benefits of diversity? Is there a tool or process you've found beneficial for creating synergy on the job?

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