The following examples are taken from organizations across the country and will give you some suggestions about ways to manage diversity and cultivate a workplace that is free of stereotyping.
Communicate examples that foster diversity.
Making a point to intentionally publicize people and situations that challenge stereotypic thinking is the way one home improvement chain helps break down assumptions. Knowing that women and younger employees might be assumed to be less knowledgeable about the construction trades and hardware, they post the pictures of department managers and assistant managers with their experience and qualifications listed beneath. Seeing that a particular employee is a master carpenter, experienced electrician or tile setter with ten years in the trade can break down assumptions that might exist about ability and competence based on age, gender, size, or ethnicity.
Humanize encounters and contact.
Creating opportunities for individuals to have access to people from different groups can lessen preconceived notions. One organization sends selected executives on recruiting trips to minority professional association conferences so that senior managers can see for themselves the range of talented people available in various groups. Not only does this break down their own assumptions about these groups, but it provides them real life examples to share.
Have a diverse set of eyes on decision-making.
Diverse hiring panels are used in many organizations to reduce stereotyping and the resulting bias in the interview and selection processes. In one hospital, a panel member challenged the group that was ready to reject an applicant who came to the interview dressed in a skintight leopard print jumpsuit and stiletto heels. Seeing that the interviewee had the skills and experience needed, she convinced them to hire her, and then counseled the new hire on appropriate work attire.
Having a diverse array of individuals review materials, videos, and publications is also helpful in catching unconscious assumptions and unintended stereotypic depictions.
Mix people across boundaries.
Human beings tend to gravitate toward those with whom they have something in common. Who we eat lunch with, sit next to at meetings, or select for a project is often influenced by that comfort. Whether language, level, profession, or department is the basis for common ground, the separation often leads people to see each other as labels. Creating ways
Cultivating Diversity in the Workplace page 3