With the immigration-related political turmoil going on in the United States today–and many areas of the world, for that matter–the workplace is seeing some upheaval already, with the distinct possibility that it will increase over time. How does this affect your career, your job prospects, and the work environments you might encounter?
Obviously, this is a touchy subject, and I’m not going to go into the depths of the controversial aspects of it. However, I do want to encourage you to think seriously about workplace diversity and what it might mean to you, now and in the future.
An obvious fact is that your co-workers, bosses, and subordinates are likely to present widely different appearances–including differences in age, sex, and national origin.
If you have challenges around these obvious differences, you have your “work” cut out for you, in the sense of figuring out how you’re going to work effectively with people who seem so unlike you. Failure to identify a realistic approach to dealing with these situations could create roadblocks in your path to career success.
Of course, outward appearance represents only a fraction of the differences you could encounter as a factor of workplace diversity. Some of them are highly controversial; others not quite as much. Regardless of that, you still need to develop an appropriate behavior that marks you as a professional in every respect. You have to work with these individuals–and they have to work with you! That’s right; it’s not all a one-way street. You’re not the only one who might have adjustments to make.
We’ve often been told that it’s important to exhibit tolerance of others’ differences from us. If you view tolerance (as some people do) as looking at those differences with a somewhat condescending attitude, it probably doesn’t help the situation much. However, one definition of tolerance says: “willingness to accept behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, even if you disagree with or disapprove of them.”
Evidence of that definition seems in short supply today. I believe that failure to work on incorporating it into your work atmosphere could have major consequences, both for your own professional success and on a larger scale.
After all, the definition doesn’t say you have to like–much less love–the differences. It just says you need to be willing to acknowledge and accept that others have a right to be different from you.
The fact is, workplace diversity isn’t likely to go away, although aspects of it might change. You can tap into powerful forces for achieving desirable outcomes through collaborative teamwork; that remains a critical factor to keep in mind. If you self-impose limitations on that potential by creating or accepting barriers between you and your co-workers, you risk encountering undesirable consequences in your career progress and long-term success.
Is it going to be easy or straightforward to move ahead in the uncertain times currently facing us? Probably not, but you stand a much better chance of overcoming the obstacles if you acknowledge that workplace diversity doesn’t need to be a negative factor–it can bring strongly positive results for your career if you invest the right energy in it. And if you can bring yourself to accept the notion that your view just might not be the only view, you’re starting out on the right track.