Now that you have an awareness of the aspects of HR that could be affected by multiculturalism, you may consider what steps you can take to create a more multicultural workplace. The first step would be to create a diversity plan, as discussed earlier in this section. The second step would be to look at the operation of the HR department and to figure out what departmental measures can be taken to promote diversity.
HR, for example, can provide a training series on power and privilege and how it relates to the workplace. Awareness is the first step to creating a truly multicultural environment. Once employees recognize their own power and privilege, the training could be developed to include laws related to diversity, and discussions on bias can take place. Then discussions can be held on how to improve HR plans such as job analysis, recruitment, and selection to create a multicultural work environment. Rather than thinking about this training as one of many objectives that must be accomplished, think about the training from the conversation perspective. Getting the conversation started is the first step in this personal and professional development process for employees.
Some of the aspects to creating a training focused on multiculturalism might include the following:
- Build a cultural knowledge about customs, religions, and histories.
- Discuss treatment of people based on them as individuals, rather than as part of a “group,” which can result in stereotyping.
- Teach employees to listen actively, which can help raise cultural awareness.
- Train employees to rethink current policies and how those policies might be exclusive to a certain group.
- Work on resistance to change. Many employees think, “This is the way we have always done it, and now we have to change it because we have a group of ____ working here now.”
- Does your leadership team have a multiculturalism perspective? Are many ethnic backgrounds and other multicultural traits represented?
While these suggestions may not eliminate power and privilege, the ability to talk about differences and expectations can be a key ingredient to creating a more inclusive environment. Sometimes this type of training can help people evaluate their perceptions. For example, suppose a complaint came through that a woman was making derogatory sexual comments to only one group of men in an organization. When talked to about it, she said she made comments to the “techies” because she thought the comments would provide them a needed confidence boost, but she generally wouldn’t make those types of comments. This is an example of her perception (“techies” need confidence boosts from women) followed by her action (the comments) on this perception. When we assume our perceptions are correct, we are usually wrong. Training can get people to consider their emotions, stereotypes, and expectations. Besides training, asking ourselves a series of important questions can be the start to making diversity and multiculturalism work. The University of California, San Francisco human resource department lists some of these questions, which are shown in the sidebar.
Things to Consider When Creating a Multicultural And Diverse Work Environment
- Do you test your assumptions before acting on them?
- Do you believe there is only one right way of doing things, or that there are a number of valid ways that accomplish the same goal? Do you convey that to staff?
- Do you have honest relationships with each staff member you supervise? Are you comfortable with each of them? Do you know what motivates them, what their goals are, and how they like to be recognized?
- Are you able to give negative feedback to someone who is culturally different from you?
- When you have open positions, do you insist on a diverse screening committee and make additional outreach efforts to ensure that a diverse pool of candidates has applied?
- When you hire a new employee, do you not only explain job responsibilities and expectations clearly but orient the person to the campus and department culture and unwritten rules?
- Do you rigorously examine your unit’s existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they do not differentially impact different groups? When they do, do you change them?
- Are you willing to listen to constructive feedback from your staff about ways to improve the work environment? Do you implement staff suggestions and acknowledge their contribution?
- Do you take immediate action with people you supervise when they behave in ways that show disrespect for others in the workplace, such as inappropriate jokes and offensive terms?
- Do you make good faith efforts to meet your affirmative action goals?
- Do you have a good understanding of institutional isms such as racism and sexism and how they manifest themselves in the workplace?
- Do you ensure that assignments and opportunities for advancement are accessible to everyone?
- What policies, practices, and ways of thinking have differential impact on different groups?
- What organizational changes should be made to meet the needs of a diverse workforce?
- Source: University of California, San Francisco, “Managing Diversity in the Workplace,” chap. 12 in Guide to Managing Human Resources, accessed July 11, 2011, http://ucsfhr.ucsf.edu/index.php/pubs/hrguidearticle/chapter-12-managing-diversity-in-the-workplace/#684.
Human Resource Recall
Why is multiculturalism important in the workplace? What is your role, as an employee in your organization, to ensure a diverse workforce?
How Would You Handle This?
Refer a Friend
Your manager is very concerned about the cost of hiring the three new people you need. As a result, she doesn’t want to post the advertisement in a variety of places; she thinks it’s best to just use a “refer a friend” recruitment strategy. When she moves forward with this strategy, ten people turn in résumés. Upon looking further, it appears all applicants went to the same private religious college and graduated around the same time. You are concerned that this method of recruitment lacks diversity. How would you handle this with your manager?
How Would You Handle This?
The author discusses the How Would You Handle This situation in this chapter
- Oftentimes there are cultural aspects to an organization that make it resistant to an inclusive environment. These are often not obvious, but it is important to be aware of
how your own company culture impacts multiculturalism.
- One way to begin the discussion within your organization is to create diversity action plans, for which the entire company is responsible and for which HR is the change agent. In addition to companywide initiatives, HR can also look within its own HR plans to see where it may be able to change.
- In recruitment, awareness of how and where you post announcements is crucial.
- Testing should be fair and unbiased and shouldn’t negatively impact someone based on race, national origin, gender, social class, or educational level.
- There are many reasons for differences in pay. Development of a set pay scale can alleviate some of the issues surrounding unfair pay, especially between men and women.
- Formal mentorship programs can create multicultural understanding and can ensure people do not stick with their own race or gender when helping someone move up the ranks in an organization.
- What are some things we can do, personally, to be more multiculturally efficient?
- What are the advantages of having a set pay scale? What are the disadvantages?