My reasons for taking this course include personal interest in diversity issues and especially in how diversity impacts social justice.
My diversity awareness has improved significantly after taking this course. The biggest impact the course has had is on opening my eyes to social injustices that continue to occur in the United States. I am more aware of both the causes and effects of injustice, and am more aware of the ways we can improve the society. I have also become aware of different types of diversity, including sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic class, and culture.
My diversity understanding has improved immeasurably. I understand the way a lack of diversity can harm an organization, as it is less capable of making sensible decisions. I also understand that diversity has a positive impact on all types of societies and organizations because people need to be exposed to different ideas and points-of-view. My diversity understanding has also improved in the way I recognize that seeing things from other peoples' perspectives can make me a more tolerant person and a better communicator.
My diversity skills have greatly improved after taking this course. Skills such as what types of questions to ask people, and how to respond all relate to my diversity sensitivity. I have developed greater skills of observation, and learned how the dominant culture can take for granted its position of political, social, and economic power. My skills in communication and emotional intelligence have also improved.
To become a more diversity-conscious individual, I need to take several steps starting with interacting with people from different races, cultures, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. This is challenging because it will require me to step outside of my comfort zone and seek creative means of interacting with different people. Another step I can take to become a more diversity-conscious individual is to read more about different cultures, and also read materials that speak from points-of-view different from my own.
The benefits of valuing and cultivating diversity are proven in practice and in scholarly literature. One of the most obvious benefits of diversity is that it allows groups, both small and large, to have a multiplicity of perspectives that can help make decision-making a more effective process. Diversity also helps individuals and organizations become more open to change (Green, Lopez, Wysocki & Kepner, 2012). Research has also shown that diversity can be profitable. "Different groups of people offer different skills that can improve an organisation's ability to deliver goods and services, adding value and sustainable competitive advantage," ("Benefits of a Diverse Workplace," n..d). Therefore, greater diversity awareness means that I will be a more effective member of a team, one who can bring broader perspective, help the organization be open to new ideas, and potentially increase profitability too.
Philips (2009) reveals new research in the benefits of diversity, too. Studies have shown that members of a group are more willing to share new ideas when they are in a diverse group. This information has a lot of potential to encourage individuals and organizations to become more interested in actively promoting diversity, and not simply tolerating diversity. Perhaps it is the security of being in a group where each person thinks differently. Thus, my increased diversity awareness will allow me to share my ideas better and also listen to others.
Communication is the key to promoting diversity awareness. It is essential that leaders and managers in organizations communicate their commitment to diversity in a top-down method that impacts the organizational culture. By conducting communication in diversity seminars, employees become more aware of how they can improve their diversity awareness. Senior management can also communicate a human resources policy that fosters diversity.
Moreover, it is important to communicate in ways that respect diversity. There are different communication styles, and different cultures have different norms regarding communication. Understanding how both verbal and non-verbal communication impact the organizational culture and workplace environment depends on continual communication. Employees need to check in on each other to ensure that messages are being communicated effectively. Ribbink (2003) offers methods such as learning how the source culture best receives communication; and training employees regularly as keys to promoting diversity awareness via corporate communications.
There are at least two ways that I can improve communication skills to help others work more productively with me or any other member of the team. One way that I can improve communication skills to help others work more productively is to actively seek feedback. Some people might stay quiet about how they feel until they are asked directly, and it would also be helpful to provide a safe and if necessary, anonymous, way of soliciting feedback. Second, I can improve communication skills by changing the way I deliver messages. Not all people receive messages or respond to them in the same way. I need to be aware of the patterns that I am stuck in and break out of them, so that I can be a more effective leader. Another way I can improve communication skills with the goal of improving productivity is to offer my team multiple ways of receiving the same message. As Mayhew (n.d.) points out, it can be helpful to offer options, such as written vs. face-to-face meetings; or online vs. telephone communications.
I have several diversity goals, especially after taking this course and realizing how complex the issue of diversity can be. One of my foremost goals related to diversity is to travel more for my company. Several of my employees have traveled to our offices in Europe and Asia and as a result, have learned a lot about different cultures. I believe the only way to truly learn about diversity is to experience other cultures as an outsider; which builds character and humility in the face of things like misunderstanding, embarrassments, and language barriers. A related goal of mine is to learn a new language within the next few years.
Another goal related to diversity is to consciously interact more with people who are different from me. This is more difficult than it sounds, because the interactions cannot be forced or contrived. Developing meaningful relationships with people from other cultures requires a cultivation of respect. I also need to be more aware of who I am, and I can do this by writing down a biography that highlights the aspects of my cultural background that I take for granted. I can also include issues such as gender and socio-economic class as I write this biography, to show how different aspects of my identity have impacted the way I communicate and how I perceive others. I need to become more aware of my prejudices and stereotypes, many of which I might not be aware of yet. Finally, I have a goal of being more confident and able to ask people directly about their culture.
Three specific ways I will achieve my diversity goals and contribute to creating an environment that values diversity include the following. First, I will tell my supervisor tomorrow that I am interested in attending meetings at one of the foreign offices. This will help me fulfill my primary goal of traveling more in order to become more aware of diversity. I also believe that working in the foreign office will teach me about diversity related to different management styles, diversity related to gender norms in the workplace, and diversity related to communication styles.
Another way I will achieve my diversity goals is by taking a language course at the local community college, and supplementing that course work with joining a conversational group in my area. Conversational learning is the best way to improve diversity consciousness, because the language becomes only one aspect of cross-cultural communication. I also want to learn…