South Africa has come a long way since 1994. We are known across the globe as “The Rainbow Nation”, a name we wear with pride. Because of our cultural diversity regarding race, ethnicity, colour, sexual orientation, religion, background, and somewhat tragic past, we still have a long way to go as a Country, to accept one and other. Understanding your fellow man and colleague can go a long way to manage conflict in organisations and managing diversity within the work environment. To achieve these goals we need to look at the common misconceptions regarding diversity and conflict management.
The two most common misconceptions regarding Diversity are:
- Diversity is strictly a social or moral issue.
- Diversity is simply a business issue.
Social interactions and moral values have less to do with a person’s acceptance and ability to work effectively with other individuals, than upbringing, background and lack of knowledge and understanding towards different cultures, religions and ethnic groups. Diversity encompasses both social and financial issues.
If managed correctly, diversity can be a powerful tool in aiding an organization to achieve success.
Diversity enables an organization to:
- Recruit the best talent
- Function better as a team
- Achieve external success in the form of enhanced productivity and increased revenue.
- Experience enhanced internal relationships among employees
- Improve employee commitment and morale
- Improve relationships with clients, vendors and the public
Employees who feel valued will be more willing to put in the effort needed for a company to succeed.
In order to ensure a positive working environment and organisation needs to look at managing diversity and resolving conflict within the company that may stem from misunderstandings between individuals.
Identify the conflict (positive or negative)
Determine the root of the conflict
Propose ways to resolve the conflict
- Find a middle ground
- Be sensitive towards others’ feelings
Dealing with diversity and conflict in an organisation can be time consuming, tiring and ultimately it can cost the company valuable time. To insure that this does not happen, employees as well as management staff need to be skilled in conflict resolution and Diversity Management.