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How to Respect Diversity in the Workplace

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There is a greater need for tolerating work place diversity, particularly because of the variety of backgrounds people have regarding gender, ethnicity, background and religion. Though anti-discrimination laws are put in place to protect minorities at work, you may struggle with your own personal prejudices. In order to respect diversity in the workplace, you must see the value of diverse backgrounds as a way to improve productivity and creativity on the job.

Identify the benefits of having a diverse workplace. You may want to write down some of the reasons you enjoy working with people from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them include better creativity, business image and opportunities, notes the University of Florida Cooperative Extension. When you see the value and benefits of working with a diverse group of co-workers, you may become more respectful of diversity's contribution to your business.

Make an effort to get to know others in your office. When you keep to yourself, you may miss out on the chance to get to know your diverse co-workers. You may find that inviting a co-worker to lunch or striking up a conversation reveals that you have more in common with your colleagues than you originally thought.

Create teams of employees or co-workers that haven't worked together before. When you have a project to assign, consider placing diverse colleagues together so that everyone in the office has a chance to get to know one another. A new team may be more creative and productive because of the balance of people within the group, thereby making a more effective workplace.

Write a personal diversity vision statement that helps you recognize the value of diversity in the workplace and helps you make a commitment to respect diversity. You may list some of the reasons diversity is important or list a few ways to be respectful of others. Then, hang the vision statement somewhere in your office where you can view it frequently and keep it fresh in your mind.

Avoid making broad generalizations when it comes to treating your colleagues with respect. What one worker deems is respectful may be seen as disrespectful to another, warns the University of California, San Francisco. For instance, if you make to goal to treat every co-worker the same, you could offend a religious colleague when you don't recognize her religious holiday. Respect the various backgrounds of your co-workers by adjusting your treatment to suit their individuals needs and backgrounds.


Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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