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More than ever before, promoting and maintaining diversity in the workplace is an important part of ensuring a healthy corporate culture. Workplace hiring practices that encourage diversity can go a long way toward creating a strong workplace, but hiring practices alone are not enough. Good communication with your existing staff is essential to retaining a diverse workforce and keeping good employees happy. Take a look at some communication tips that can help ensure that your workplace stays healthy and diverse.
Use Inclusive Language
The language that you use can make a big difference in whether your employees feel accepted and included in the workplace—or whether they feel excluded. It's important to use inclusive language. A good start is to make sure that you use gender neutral terms whenever possible.
For example, when you're referring to a large group, don't say "men" or "mankind". More acceptable terms are "people" or "humankind". These are terms that don't leave out half the population, including a decent chunk of your workforce. Don't unnecessarily point out gender (or race, religion, or sexuality, for that matter). However, avoid unnecessary and over the top language changes—referring to "personhole covers" instead of "manhole covers" just makes you sound like you're being sarcastic.
Monitor Your Body Language
You may have heard that communication is largely nonverbal. Different percentages are often mentioned, but the actual breakdown is this: 7% of a message is the actual words that you say. 38% is the tone of voice you use. And 55% percent of the message is conveyed by your body language.
That means that the body language you present when you're speaking and listening is highly important, so make an effort to use body language that is welcoming and nonthreatening. Don't spread out and take up more room than you need, or cross your arms over your chest to make yourself appear closed off. Instead, convey warmth with a smile, and approval and encouragement with a friendly nod. As obvious as this sounds, being aware of your body language can make a big difference in the way you come across to others.
There's a wealth of data showing that women are interrupted more often than men. What's more, men do a lot of the interrupting (although women are also more likely to interrupt other women than to interrupt men.) It can seem expedient to interrupt in a workplace setting in order to keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand. However, constant interrupting is actually a sign of poor leadership.
Because women are more likely to be interrupted than men, if you have a habit of interrupting, there is a pretty good chance that you're limiting your female employees' ability to express their ideas. In the process, you're not only losing out on potentially valuable perspectives, you're also breeding resentment. Be aware of your tendency to interrupt and resist the urge. What you may think is a diversion from the topic at hand might actually be a needed out-of-the-box persepective.
Improving your own communications skills and holding communication seminars for supervisors and employees can increase the atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance in your workplace. This creates an environment in which a diverse workforce can thrive. For more information, contact a consultant from a company like Johnson and Johnson Diversity.