Friday, April 22, 2016

Valuing Diversity - continued

Sometimes individual differences are lumped into broad categories that become stereotypes over time.  People use stereotypes to generalize about groups of people.  When we stereotype, we assume that all people of a particular group, social class, race or gender have identical characteristics.  We draw conclusions or generalize about the entire group rather than evaluating each person individually.  Stereotypes limit how we see or interact with people. They can be derogatory.  They can be deceiving.  Stereotypes on the surface are not always bad, but even so, they limit the effectiveness of individuals.  For example, physicians may be viewed as very intelligent and educated, highly trained and professional.  However, what if the physician who carries this positive stereotype is a drug abuser?

Leveraging diversity is not an easy task, and communicating about issues relating to diversity can be challenging.
Some Communication Guidelines For Issues of Diversity  
  • Don't ignore difficult issues.  Ignoring an incident sends the message that you are in agreement with such behavior or attitudes.  
  • Be aware of your own attitudes, stereotypes and expectations and be open to discovering the limitations they place on your perspective.
  • Demonstrate understanding and forgiveness when events occur.  
  • Recognize that change is a long-term process.  
  • Reflect and practice the positive values you are trying to teach.  
  • Remember that issues of human dignity, equality and safety are non-negotiable.  
  • Use your best judgment and try to do what you believe is right.  
  • Use "I" messages when giving feedback.  For example, instead of "you're always telling blonde jokes", say, "I'm uncomfortable with blonde jokes because..."
The workplace has changed and will continue to do so.
There are societal, business, legal and individual aspects of diversity to consider.  Individuals have unique contributions and differences, but most of us are more alike than different.  Recognizing and acknowledging differences and similarities and evaluating others without stereotyping will strengthen working relationships and increase productivity.  You can take action to leverage diversity and make your organization a better place to work.
Until next time...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

No comments: