7 Challenges Underrepresented Groups Face in the Workplace

A look at the workplace challenges faced by team members from underrepresented groups.

By Mia Miller

The foundation of a company’s success lies in its culture. It is the secret to attracting and retaining top talent. However, company cultures vary significantly from one workplace to another—some might be open to diversity, while others may not be as accepting as they should be. 

While a diverse workplace has many benefits, like higher employee engagement, better productivity, and lower turnover, handling different sets of people can also present some challenges. 

Underrepresented employees have often experienced discrimination due to various circumstances, including unconscious bias and policies. Because of this, some even experience existential crises that they find it challenging to attend work. This issue cannot be ignored by leadership. That’s why it is crucial to be aware of those challenges to mitigate them and help underrepresented groups reach their full potential.

So, to understand these issues better, we listed below the challenges underrepresented groups face in the workplace and some tips to overcome them to ensure that team members from varied backgrounds have a better workplace experience. 

7 Challenges Underrepresented Groups Face in the Workplace

Among the underrepresented employees are people of color, indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and women. And historically, oppressed people have experienced various challenges in the workplace. Here are some of them:

Communication Barriers

Overcoming communication barriers is vital for an inclusive workplace that promotes diversity. It is also one of the most prevalent diversity-related difficulties managers must handle. Most companies struggle to create efficient communication channels among their varied workforce because of language barriers, cultural quirks, and personal biases.

However, best practices that can help overcome these challenges include funding cross-cultural training programs and encouraging open communication channels. Through this, leaders can assess how diverse their team is while eliminating unconscious prejudice and preconceptions by carefully listening to their team members and considering other viewpoints when making choices. Improving employee engagement and retention while gaining a competitive edge by utilizing a diverse talent pool is possible by fostering an inclusive workplace where everyone feels like they belong.

Cultural Misunderstandings

Companies must be aware of the difficulties posed by diversity in the workplace if they want to create an inclusive workplace that promotes teamwork and problem-solving. Communication barriers like language preferences can create misunderstandings between team members from diverse backgrounds. 

While many HR and team leaders focus on building corporate sustainability, they must also consider diversity training to acquire the best talent from underrepresented groups by using fair hiring procedures. Everyone in the organization must respect diverse viewpoints and be genuine without using stereotypes to overcome unconscious prejudices. Teams can produce fresh ideas that challenge the status quo while achieving corporate objectives when there is an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging.

Different Perspectives

While incorporating diversity in the workplace gives fresh viewpoints that could solve problems and generate new ideas, it could also result in misunderstandings due to language issues or stereotyping. Leaders should commit to fostering an inclusive environment by promoting teamwork, investing in diversity training, encouraging cultural sensitivity, and implementing inclusiveness best practices.

Additionally, managers ought to work to foster an atmosphere where people are free to voice their opinions and ask questions, enabling various viewpoints without stifling any. Therefore, encouraging true self at team meetings while recognizing multiple backgrounds and communication styles improves employee engagement.

7 Challenges Underrepresented Groups Face in the Workplace
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Resistance to Change

Employees who are resistant to change are natural. Therefore, employers that seek to adopt diversity efforts may encounter some opposition to their ideas. We are creatures of habit, and some people might insist on doing things the way they always do. This resistance may be overcome, though, with perseverance and strong leadership. When encountering opposition, discuss the advantages of having a diverse workplace.

Ensure the staff is aware of the advantages that come from various efforts. To help employees better grasp potential changes, consider requiring diversity training. People will be more understanding and patient with the process when they recognize the benefits and significance of having a diverse workplace

Aligning Diversity with Company Goals 

Building an inclusive workforce that supports the organization’s objectives is essential in today’s corporate environment. However, ensuring that diversity programs are aligned with the team’s strategic goals that do not get overlooked when pursuing ambitions presents some obstacles. Business leaders must encourage inclusion by establishing standards and offering tools to build a broad talent pool to accomplish this goal.

Leaders can foster a culture of teamwork and a sense of belonging for all team members by creating a healthy work atmosphere where employees can be themselves in the workplace. When communication preferences and styles are encouraged while keeping cultural sensitivity in mind, you will be surprised how many new ideas arise from various people. Leaders can avoid unconscious biases and preconceptions by implementing best practices in HR, such as diversity training, which fosters innovative problem-solving abilities.

Retaining Diverse Talents

In today’s cutthroat corporate environment, creating an inclusive workplace that supports a broad range of people is crucial. Diversity and inclusion are top priorities in successful leaders’ strategic objectives, and they also hold themselves accountable for the results.

An authentic sense of belonging can be encouraged via mentoring programs that assist minorities in negotiating challenging workplaces. Using secondary vital terms like cultural sensitivity and breaking down communication barriers with inclusive communication approaches will boost morale and employee engagement. The advantages of adopting these best practices in the workplace go well beyond just fostering a culture of innovation and inclusiveness that promotes growth.

Lack of Consensus

Employees with varied perspectives can help an organization innovate but can also cause paralysis. Finding a consensus throughout a project can be jeopardized if there are too many suggestions or alternatives. Employee buy-in might be challenging if they disagree with the project’s direction.

To get around this, organizations can form a tiny committee. The committee can review the proposed solutions if the team cannot agree on the best answer or action. How the team will proceed will be decided by the committee. 

Final Thoughts

Every employee in a diverse company has unique qualities and abilities that others might benefit from. Everyone  should be given access to develop and learn when exposed to various cultures, ways of doing things, and viewpoints. 

Diverse work groups are valuable to organizations, and respecting individual differences will improve workplace efficiency and provide employees with a competitive edge. Thus, being aware of the challenges underrepresented people experience in the workplace and knowing how to work around them is crucial to create a company culture that fosters a sense of belonging.  

About the Author

Mia Miller is a research analyst turned writer who has always been passionate about words and ideas. Despite enjoying her work as an analyst, Mia always felt drawn to writing and storytelling. In her free time, she honed her craft by writing short stories, articles, and blog posts. Mia enjoys listening to K-pop music and following her favorite artists.

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