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Knowing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Diversity in the Office

A few weeks ago, Spark News was pretty heavily covering the politics and issues that arise in the workplace. We talked about how age discrimination is still prevalent, how to handle sexual harassment in the workplace and tons of other workplace conflicts that many of us face. Spark News also discussed the importance of diversity in the office. It’s definitely an important aspect of the workplace, especially since our country is teeming with diversity. Therefore, we figure it was only fitting to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages that come with diversity in the workplace, because unfortunately it’s not always advantageous.

When you think of diversity, you might automatically think of race. While diverse races in the workplace are certainly part of having a diverse office, there are a lot of other factors that go into diversity as well. Age, sex, religion, language and social status are large factors as well. When you jumble all of these things together and have people from all areas of the spectrum working together, the results can definitely be advantageous. At the same time, there can be some downsides and disadvantages to diversity in the workplace as well. After all, nothing is 100 percent perfect, right?

One of the biggest advantages to having a diverse office is the fact that you have so many different, unique insights. If your entire office was made up of one age group, one sex and one race then chances are the flow of ideas would be slightly dull. Of course everyone is an individual and has their own ideas, but if you are coming from the same background it’s likely that you will have some of the same ideas and viewpoints. When you bring in people of different backgrounds, then new, fresh ideas are brought to the table. If these diverse ideas and people are managed correctly, then the outcome is awesome. On the other hand, if they are not the outcome can be a mess.

By the same token, when people of diverse backgrounds start communicating their ideas it can turn into a difficult situation. Since everyone is different and has different opinions, and different ways of expressing those opinions, there’s a lot of room for conflict and a clash of ideas. When cultures clash, it can take a lot of time for the kinks to be smoothed out. Once they are smoothed out though the flow of diverse ideas can be a harmonious and great thing. However, until those kinks are figured out the barriers can make it a difficult atmosphere to work in. One person may not see eye to eye with another and personal conflicts or opinions can negatively affect productivity.

When you place a large group of diverse people in the same room and have them working together, natural divides happen. It’s virtually unavoidable. People will pair with those they are comfortable with and with those they think understand them and their ideas. That is why management is such an important key to keeping a sound, diverse work environment. Managers have to be sure that their work groups aren’t visibly divided to where working cohesively is out the window. It’s important to have everyone work together at a comfortable level where one person, or group of people, don’t feel as though they are out of the loop.

Working in a very diverse atmosphere breeds awesome results if the situation is handled correctly. It’s not an easy task, but it’s definitely a doable one. Companies do it everyday and the successful companies end with diverse, unique opinions across the board, which can only be good for them.

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Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter