Workforce Diversity: Challenge or Benefit for Human Resources?

Workplace demographics  — as a reflection of America’s demographics — include an ever-growing range of ages, backgrounds, values, educational levels, and skills. Does workforce diversity present a challenge or a benefit for Human Resources? The answer: both.

HR professionals, working with company leadership, are key to understanding all the different groups within their workforce. Effective HR departments guide their companies to capitalize on differences, avoid discrimination, and plan for inclusion. In the process, HR leaders find both challenges and benefits in workforce diversity.

Challenges related to workforce diversity

Hiring practices and policies

Hiring practices and policies may be outdated and a potential hindrance to increasing diversity at your company. Set increased diversity as a goal, then – with that goal in mind – review all of your hiring practices and policies. Do they promote or discourage diversity? Are they compliant with current legislation and case law? Revise policies to eliminate any possibility of discrimination. 


Simply increasing the diversity of your workforce does not mean you have successfully integrated various individuals into your company culture. Develop specific processes for inclusion. Diverse groups have diverse needs. Consider how to provide work schedules, incentives, and growth opportunities that give employees choices, affirmation, and motivation.


Sustaining an inclusive and productive workforce requires ongoing training for all employees. Make sure employees understand and embrace the company’s commitment to diversity. Offer adequate support to managers so that they can maximize performance and employee satisfaction and minimize resistance or conflict. 


As diversity increases, communication becomes more complex … and more crucial. HR professionals need to create opportunities for dialog – both formal and informal. Devote time to employee brainstorming sessions that include a variety of viewpoints. In addition, set aside social time at the workplace. Encourage employees to visit with and learn about each other. Once the channels of communication are open in non-threatening settings, resolving difficult employee relations issues will be easier.

Benefits related to workforce diversity


Companies that value diversity have a larger labor pool from which to draw. When unemployment is low, being  known for valuing diversity is a competitive advantage. Be sure that your job postings reflect your company values.

Customer Satisfaction

When your diverse workforce represents your diverse customer base, your products and services constantly evolve to better match client needs and preferences. Building a diverse workforce can help you expand your market reach.


With a diverse workforce, HR professionals focus on building effective teams that meld varied languages, backgrounds, and ages. Such teams draw on a broad base of experience. With the variety of experience and viewpoint, such teams tend to invent more options and offer more creative solutions.

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