Leaders are struggling to mesh the multi-generational and ethnocultural workforce.
The loudest chatter seems to be around ‘dealing’ with millennials in the workplace. Anything else usually starts with the topic of age (multi-generational) and race and ethnicity (ethnocultural diversity).
Diversity can pose unique challenges to organizational leaders because each group has its particular needs, perceptions, and expectations. Unfortunately, most managers and supervisors have no diversity training. Therefore, they fail to create positive-equal status interactions among people of different age, race, and ethnicity. When leaders lack understanding of leading diverse groups it usually leads to ineffective workflow structure, increased conflicts, and a high level of generational and ethnocultural prejudice.
The multi-generational and ethnocultural workforce is here to stay. Based on current research, the last few years have shown a staggering increase in diversity in the workplace. Therefore, the strategies involving cooperative interdependence among the employees of different age, race, and ethnicity should be carefully structured to meet each unique need.
Why are organizations struggling to build an inclusive culture to adapt to the increasingly diverse workforce?
Because talking about age, race, and ethnicity is an awkward and sensitive topic. But not having candid conversations does not mean these issues will go away. As a matter of fact, as we stay silent, they become the elephant in the room.
Some might argue that talking about these topics leads to categorizing which can lead to stereotyping which could be dangerous and therefore should be avoided in the workplace.
Really? People cannot leave who they are outside the workplace.
Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve until you won’t have your most talented employees anymore.
Whether it is conscious or unconsciously, we cannot deny that stereotyping and discrimination exist in the workforce. Yes, stereotyping pose a significant threat to equality in the workplace. So address the issue in an authentic way so that employees can understand that everyone is unique, and no generalization can capture who they are.
Learning how to lead a diverse workforce is a win-win for everyone. It is critical for compliance with anti-discrimination laws and it also increases engagement and productivity.
Some strategies to lead a multi-generational and ethnocultural workforce
Take a good look at the organizational structure and practices. Unfortunately, sometimes perceptions and attitudes are deeply rooted in certain historical and social contexts. Find them. It could be nonverbal behaviors, patterns of interactions, and cliques. It would be ineffective to move forward without uprooting these influences.
Design and implement strategies to improve intergroup relations such as training, selection processes, cooperative activities, and other practices that will highlight commonalities instead of differences.
Speak up! Silence about age, race, and ethnicity in the workplace only increases separatism.
Share positive communications to increase knowledge, which increases awareness, which influences positive change, and will contribute to a climate of positive intergroup relations.
Model diversity by promoting an inclusive and tolerant work environment. Leaders send messages to their employees by their actions as well as their words. Therefore, treating everyone in a fair and just manner as well as implementing diversity strategies into the business model and core values will most likely motivate others to commit to building positive intergroup relations.