Skip to content
Home » Breaking Down Barriers: 5 Common Challenges When Developing Diversity in the Workplace

Breaking Down Barriers: 5 Common Challenges When Developing Diversity in the Workplace

Common Challenges When Developing Diversity in the Workplace

Across the world, diversity and inclusion are taking center stage in modern workforces. Whether it’s the push toward increasing diversity in Australian workplaces, or the drive to get more women in parliament in Nordic nations, inclusivity is more important than ever. 

A diverse workforce brings many benefits, including increased innovation, unique perspectives, and enhanced creativity. That being said, developing a diverse workplace is not without its challenges. In the article below, we’ll examine five of the most common hurdles businesses face when building an inclusive workplace, including advice on how to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Lack of trust

Diverse workplaces may cause some employees to feel less connected or loyal to their team or organization. Usually, this results from a lack of trust or understanding among team members from different backgrounds.

Doubling down on inclusivity can help overcome this lack of trust. Foster an environment where everyone feels valued and respected by providing team building and collaborative opportunities. Furthermore, encourage open communication and establish clear expectations for respectful behavior, and hold all employees accountable to these standards.

Challenge 2: Delayed decision-making

A more diverse workplace means more opinions and feedback in the workplace. In the long run that diversity of thought can lead to better decisions. In the short run, however, it may delay decision-making. For businesses aiming to thrive in a fast-paced industry, the delay presents a challenge. 

Luckily, the challenge isn’t insurmountable. By establishing a decision-making framework that welcomes diverse feedback yet sets clear deadlines, businesses can balance the need to hear all voices with the need to respond promptly. 

Challenge 3: Communication barriers

Although there are many benefits to having a variety of languages, cultures, and communication styles in a workplace, it can also lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. These kinds of communication barriers can pose significant challenges for businesses trying to foster an inclusive environment

Giving employees proper language and cultural training can help overcome this challenge. This kind of training helps employees better understand and effectively communicate with colleagues from varied backgrounds. In addition to training, businesses can also establish clear communication protocols and encourage open and respectful communication among team members.

Challenge 4: Stereotypes and discrimination

Stereotypes and prejudice are major hurdles to workplace diversity. Some employees may have unconscious bias or negative attitudes towards other employees based on their identity or background. This can create a hostile work environment where employees from certain backgrounds feel excluded or undervalued. 

Thankfully, proper training can help. In particular, training focused on helping employees understand the negative impact of stereotypes and discrimination and encouraging them to treat all colleagues with respect and fairness. Strong anti-discrimination policies will provide support for employees who experience discrimination or harassment.

Challenge 5: Lack of leadership support

Developing diversity in the workplace requires strong leadership support and buy-in from all employees. Without the support of prominent leaders, diversity initiatives may not be taken seriously by employees or may not receive the necessary resources to succeed. 

To avoid both of those negative outcomes, businesses must ensure their leadership team is fully committed to building a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive. Diversity training and educational programs for leaders are a great way to start. In addition, establishing clear goals and metrics for measuring progress is a great way to stay accountable.

Like most worthwhile goals, workplace diversity comes with a unique set of challenges ranging from communication barriers to a lack of leadership support. By tackling these challenges, businesses can create a more inclusive environment and reap the many benefits of having a diverse workforce.