Dealing with diversity at work

Demographic change, the global marketplace and greater tolerance for differences are increasing the importance of diversity at the workplace. More women, minorities, and people with different ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles are today entering the workforce. Organisations that do not manage diversity effectively will not be able to utilise the full potential of their workers, nor survive and grow under increasingly complex and competitive business conditions.

Many barriers continue to restrict the opportunities of diverse groups. These barriers may be from the environment, such as discrimination or stereotyping, and from individuals, such as poor career planning or inadequate skill preparation. Both external and internal barriers can be equally detrimental to the advancement of diverse groups. External barriers may be more obvious than internal barriers, but minorities need to carefully assess and identify the barriers they set for themselves and work on resolving them.

Organisations could provide employees with skills for operating in a multicultural environment, so that employees can understand their own as well as other cultures, values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and strengths and weaknesses. Training and education, can fill a company’s needs in areas such as awareness-building, skill building, helping employees understand the need for valuing diversity, educating employees on specific cultural differences, providing the skills necessary for working in diverse work teams, and providing skills and development activities necessary for diverse groups to do their job and have the opportunity for advancement.


Below are the Q-A sessions in Rediff chat answered by Amit Bansal, the founder and CEO of PurpleLeap.


Ashok asked, However, some of them are wiser with experience to understand, but the in experienced people…do not agree with the reason given to them or they would start arguing and crying…. How do you deal with such situation
Amit Bansal answers, Over a period of time people have to understand that a workplace has rules. I think just give it a little time, in the meanwhile reiterating the rules.

Swapnil asked, Sir, I regularly come across with colleagues who has habit of taking core information from me and then advise the same to my superior to take credit of that. How to tackle this issue?
Amit Bansal answers, Stop sharing your ideas with others if they cannot display integrity. That’s the best way.

Ashok asked, How do you manage the female employees when some strict rules have to be imposed. Like not giving leaves… Since girls / Women take it personally. I dont want the work to get affected
Amit Bansal answers, Ashok, I suggest just want you to reflect on this question. It may just be your perception. With the kind of responsibilities women are taking in any organizations, I would not generalize this. However, if you have women employees in your organization who are not very comfortable with strict policies, you may want to speak to them.

Sudhir asked, How to deal with nosy colleagues who keep asking for information about my personal life like investments for instance ?
Amit Bansal answers, While you are talking to him or with others when this colleague is around, you can casually state that you do not like discussing your personal life at work. If this person is seeking advice in financial decisions, take it on the face value. However, if the questions are interrogative to seek specific information about your personal investments, ignore and do not entertain those questions by changing the topic of discussion. Making it obvious will give the person a hint that you are not interested to talk about certain personal details.

Barada asked, Mr.Bansal in srategic things,particularly in Hr where there a cultural difference in different regions within India, how to motivate & indulge the people power to achieve the organizational or Business goal.
Amit Bansal answers, Being in HR is like being in the right place to use diversity to increase productivity and build better teams. I think within teams various activities should be conducted to bond people from diverse backgrounds. Initiating ethnic days where people dress up in their ethnic wear or even a potluck, contests etc. These are very effective ways to optimize on workplace diversity and turn it around into building a positive workplace.

Rohit asked, Sir, how do you deal with stereotypes in organizations. though i am in favour of diversity, lot of types this leads to groupism and stereotypes. what to do?
Amit Bansal answers, In the stages of team formation, there is a stage of storming. Stereotypes is usually a part of storming phase. In certain places this stage is slightly longer than the others. Each individual within a team or an organization should do their bit to beat the stereotypes. It’s not a difficult task. If you are a part of a group and you do not believe in the stereotypes they are promoting, openly oppose to it and involve other people in your group. I think that will be somewhere to start with.

gopa asked, how to deal with boss who never praise me ?.Always try to find faults in me
Amit Bansal answers, Some people usually find it difficult to appreciate people. If you can try to communicate this to your boss in a subtle manner it will be good. But if you cannot, I feel this is a great opportunity for you to condition yourself to be self motivated. Like I said some people find it difficult to appreciate other people and you cannot change that entirely. An awareness and a conscious effort is the only way that can help.

abc asked, sir how to deal with a bully boss?
Amit Bansal answers, I think you need to talk to your boss over a one on one. Share instances when a specific behavior was disturbing. Help him/ her understand that it affects your overall motivation to work under him. Also, highlight certain things you like about working with him/ her.

nottyn asked, sir, how do you deal with a colleague who is jealous of your achievements? what is the right way to confront the person?
Amit Bansal answers, Well, the first step is to find out whether this person is really jealous or is that an assumption you have. Sometimes we misunderstand people unnecessarily. Next step is to make friends with this person and make him comfortable with you. This will require you to make an extra effort. I am not too sure why you want to confront this person? Has this person been bad to you in anyway?

khanna asked, dear Sir, i have recently moven to mumbai frm Delhi and i find the work culture very different from delhi. could you pls provide me some basic tips on what are the most important things i should keep in ming to not upset anyone
Amit Bansal answers, I have personally not worked in Mumbai. However, in every new workplace there is a settling in time. I think rather than getting too bother about the differences, check how these people work differently from yours and adapt. Give yourself 2 to 3 months to understand a workplace. During this time, think many times before you react to people and situations. Take your time to confide in people and discuss sensitive issues. I am sure if you allow sometime, you will be able to fit into the new culture.

mamu asked, dear bansal do you deal with black americans at work…we first fo al don’t understand their heavy accents and then thye speak so to communicate with blacks?
Amit Bansal answers, I don’t think its just black Americans, southerners also speak in a very heavy accent. It’s a good idea to gently let them know because as much as you find their accent difficult they find yours. I guess letting each other know is a good start.


Chat date: November 30, 2011




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