Chocolate Sandwich CookiesIn a particularly great episode of Seinfeld, Jerry tells Elaine that people should look to the black and white cookie to find racial harmony. “If people would only look to the cookie, all our problems would be solved.” Ah, if embracing diversity were that easy. Racism is just one of the many “isms” that leaders fostering diversity in the workplace have to combat.

An EIU report, “Value-based Diversity: The Challenges and Strengths of Many,” collected data from over 200 HR execs worldwide and asked respondents about workforce characteristics that will require the greatest change in HR strategies over the next three years.

  • Just under 60 percent of HR execs cited employees’ lack of interest in assimilating organizational values.

The company culture is based off of its established values. Well what if no one communicates those values? Could companies be blaming their lack of communicated values, and therefore culture, on their employees’ “lack of interest”? Just a thought.

For whatever reason employees aren’t jumping on the values bandwagon, it’s important for everyone to know that brand mission (the conveying of values and the mission statement to employees) is, and always will be vital in business success. In a Burson-Marsteller study, 75 percent of companies involved found that brand mission helped their company achieve stability.

  • Over half cited conflicting values across a multigenerational workforce.

The topic of diversity in the workplace is all over the place recently because we cannot ignore its importance any longer. There are now four generations in the workforce with completely different skills, experiences, values and needs.

Under30CEO brings us some great tips on how to keep everyone engaged and happy.

  • Create workplace choices. Provide different assignments that challenge each approach.
  • Be flexible in your leadership style.
  • Respect competence and initiative.
  • Nourish retention; your primary objective as a leader is to build a business community that supports the members and the business goals!
  • Communicate uniquely with each generation. Leadership should act as a bridge between them.
  • Accommodate employee differences. Each generation has a unique outlook on life that directly impacts their commitment to work.
  • Forty-seven percent cite unrealistic expectations of millennial employees.

Their patchwork, job-hopping careers due to the economy, layoffs and lack of opportunity dropped Millennials in a far different place in their professional lives than those generations before them. They’re not the same, they don’t have the same experience and they don’t have the tenure. Unfortunately, most of their co-workforce isn’t seeing much past these differences.

The focus needs to be redirected. What does this generation bring to the table? A Kenan-Flager Business School infographic on Maximizing Millennials is full of reasons to embrace Millennial differences.

  • They’re multi-taskers. Millennials switch their attention between media platforms 27 times per hour. This is compared to 17 times for previous generations.
  • They are social media-savvy. Forty-three percent of them have liked more than 20 brands on Facebook; a whopping 91 percent of them make their Foursquare check-ins public; and 52 percent have more than 300 friends.
  • They’re not all about the Benjamins! Thirty percent are motivated by meaningful work.

Diversity initiatives obviously have to reach past ethnicity, sex and religion. Sorry Jerry, we must look beyond the cookie. There are the disabled, different sexual orientations, communication styles and whole lot more. Each form of diversity will come with its own hurdles, but the root of diversity is perspective—changing the perspective from highlighting differences for their weaknesses, to exploring the strengths that those differences can bring.

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