What special efforts are needed to manage workforce diversity?
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There are several important strategies necessary for managing diversity in the workplace. First, it is important to ensure that nothing in the workplace creates an hostile environment for diverse members of your workforce. This means not only taking into account your own response to cultural and other differences but also making sure that the people you supervise are aware of diversity issues. Examples of special issues that affect a diverse workforce:
Gender: Not only is it important to avoid overt sexual harassment, but also other behaviors that may make women uncomfortable such as displaying pictures of partially nude models. Conducting business at men's clubs or male sporting events may create covert inequality. Policies allowing for maternity and paternity leave and a smooth return to work after leave, flexible hours, etc. are also recommended for gender diversity.
Religion: Make sure that Muslims have a place to pray and that people may take religious holidays (Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, etc.) as needed. Be sensitive to dietary restrictions associated with faith and cultural traditions (Kosher, halal, vegetarian, etc.)
Meetings/Reporting: Different cultures have different communication styles. Make sure to run meetings in such a way as to ensure that all voices are heard equally.
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