Establish practices that support individual differences in the workplace
Work effectively with individual differences
Assess use of inclusive practices
Since the introduction of mass transport by Thomas Cook in the late 19th century the people of the world have taken advantage of this opportunity to move about the globe and as a result our world has become a place of great diversity – a rich cultural tapestry that filters through all aspects of our lives.
It has given us opportunities beyond imaging, increasing our view of the wide world around us and given us a sense of worldliness that prior generations did not have.
It has also brought with it certain sets of problems where cultural, social and economic differences, for example, can lead to misunderstanding.
Recognising social and cultural diversity is an important issue. In our everyday lives, it is unlikely that we will deal only with people of similar nature, background and ideals as ourselves. We come into daily contact with many different people; they are our customers and our colleagues and we need to recognise and accept their right to their own beliefs and customs and, where practical, to make allowances for their differences and disabilities if we are to interact harmoniously with them.
We have learned to accept and indeed take on certain cultural aspects of the people with whom we have contact. This shows in the food we eat, the style of furniture and houses we buy as well as our choice of cars. There are cultural and national traits that we are all familiar with for example, “French people are known for fashion and food. Italians, arguably, make the best furniture and their architecture is world famous, while German engineering is also world renowned. The Japanese are known for their innovation, the Swiss make great clocks and Belgians make the best chocolate!!”
Our world has grown to be a place that embraces diversity and includes many aspects such as;
forms of address
levels of formality or informality
varied cultural interpretation of non‑verbal behaviour
personal grooming, including dress and hygiene habits
family and social obligations and status
observance of special religious feasts or other celebratory days
customs, beliefs and values
physical and mental abilities
Establishing practices that support individual differences
Given that our workplaces offer such rich diversity, it is important for organisations to establish practices that take account of individual differences and provide guidance on harmonious work habits. Organisational codes of ethics and practice as well as government legislation will all assist in supporting individual differences in the workplace.
Identifying individual differences in colleagues, clients and customers
There are aspects of diversity that you will need to work with in terms of people in your workforce and people who make up your customers or clients. It is useful, therefore, that you develop some knowledge of the major groups in the workplace and community, as defined by cultural, religious and other traditions and practices.
What is social diversity?
In order to fully understand and appreciate the value of a socially diverse workforce, however, we must first understand the meaning of the terms social and diverse in a work place context.
The definition of “social” is;
relating to society: relating to human society and how it is organised
relating to interaction of people: relating to the way in which people in groups behave and interact
living in a community: living or preferring to live as part of a community or colony rather than alone
offering opportunity for interaction: allowing people to meet and interact with others in a friendly way
relating to human welfare: relating to human welfare and the organised welfare services that a community provides
of rank in society: relating to or considered appropriate to a rank in society, especially the upper classes
The definition of “diverse” is;
consisting of different things: made up of many differing parts
differing from each other: very different or distinct from one another
socially inclusive: composed of many ethnic, as well as socioeconomic and gender, groups
Sourced from Encarta Dictionary
So the term ‘social’ means the way in which people relate to each other and the situations in which we feel most comfortable. The term ‘diverse’ relates to all the ways in which people are different from one another. These differences can include (but are certainly not limited to):