Diversity Challenges in the Workplace: Planning for culture change or sleepwalking into the unknown?


Explanation of diversity challenges in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace has become a critical issue in recent years. With globalisation and increased migration, workplaces are becoming more diverse. However, diversity doesn’t come without its challenges. The workplace is often plagued by language barriers, misunderstandings, prejudice, and cultural misunderstandings. These challenges can create hostility, which can impact productivity and employee wellbeing.

The biggest challenge of diversity in the workplace is the lack of trust between employees. Trust is vital for the success of any organisation. When employees don’t trust each other, it can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings, and a toxic work environment.

To overcome the challenges of diversity in the workplace, an independent investigation can be a great help. Investigating your workplace provides an objective assessment of the issues affecting it. This assessment can help identify the root causes of the problems and provide recommendations for change.

An independent review of diversity in an organisation

The Royal College of Surgeons published a diversity review, carried out by Helena Kennedy QC, which found that the College needs organisational culture change – a “radical shake-up” and that its plan for diversity is “next to non-existent”.

The report gives examples of a number of lazy racist and homophobic stereotypes in the organisation. The College is described as an “old boys’ network” with women believing that pregnancy would be harmful to career progression.

The good news is that the Royal College commissioned an independent review and published the final report, even though it made for very painful reading. In response, the President recognises the need for organisational culture change. He described the report as “immeasurably important” and said that it will change the face of the College for years to come. He committed to support the vision developed by the review and to “put diversity at the heart of the College’s strategy”.

As the Royal College of Surgeons embarks on that journey, the question comes to mind – who is next? While the leaders of other organisations may be tempted to turn the page of the newspaper reports and move on to other things, they should be urgently asking themselves what they need to do to avoid being the organisation in the newspapers tomorrow. It is surely far better to bring these things out into the open yourself than to be sleepwalking into the unknown.

Language and communication barriers

One of the most significant challenges of diversity in the workplace is language barriers. When employees speak different languages, it can be challenging to communicate effectively. This can lead to misunderstandings, which can impact productivity and employee satisfaction. An independent investigation can identify the language barriers and provide recommendations for addressing them. This might include language training for employees or hiring bilingual staff.

The role of leadership and prejudice in creating barriers

Another significant challenge of diversity in the workplace is prejudice. Prejudice is a negative attitude towards people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Prejudice can create a hostile work environment, which can impact productivity and employee wellbeing. An independent investigation can identify the sources of prejudice in the workplace and provide recommendations for addressing them.

Leadership also plays a critical role in addressing diversity challenges in the workplace. Leaders must be committed to creating an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and respected. However, sometimes leaders themselves may be part of the problem. An independent investigation can help identify any leadership issues that may be contributing to diversity challenges in the workplace. The investigation can provide recommendations for leadership training and development to help leaders create a more inclusive workplace culture.

Importance of trust in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace

Trust is also a critical factor in addressing diversity issues in the workplace. Employees must trust that their concerns will be taken seriously and that action will be taken to address them. This means that organisations must be transparent about the investigation process and communicate the findings and action plan clearly to employees.

Addressing cultural misunderstandings in the workplace

Cultural misunderstandings can also create challenges in a diverse workplace. Different cultures have different values, norms, and communication styles. Without an understanding of these differences, misunderstandings can occur. Identifying cultural misunderstandings and providing recommendations for addressing them creates opportunities for employees to learn about different cultures, and encourages open communication about cultural differences.

How hostility and conflict can arise in a diverse workplace

Hostility in the workplace can be one of the most damaging effects of diversity challenges. When employees feel threatened or unwelcome, it can lead to a toxic work environment. Providing training on conflict resolution, creating policies for reporting incidents of hostility, and providing support for affected employees can help to address these issues.

Importance of addressing diversity challenges

By investing in diversity and inclusion, organisations can create a more supportive and productive environment for all employees. It is essential that we work towards building a workplace environment where every individual feels respected and valued.


In conclusion, diversity is a complex issue that can present many challenges in the workplace. Language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and prejudice are just a few of the issues that organisations need to address in order to create a culture of inclusion and equality. An independent investigation can help organisations to identify and address diversity challenges in the workplace. By conducting an independent investigation, organisations can gain a clear understanding of the issues that are impacting their employees, and develop a roadmap for creating positive change.

The investigation can begin with a survey or focus group that allows employees to share their experiences and concerns. This feedback can be used to identify specific areas where the organisation needs to improve, such as language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, or prejudice. Once the challenges have been identified, the investigation can delve deeper into the root causes of these issues. The investigation can also explore the impact that these challenges are having on the workplace. For example, if there are cultural misunderstandings, the investigation can explore whether these misunderstandings are leading to tension and hostility in the workplace.

Once the investigation is complete, the findings can be used to create a plan for organisational culture change. This plan can include specific recommendations for addressing the challenges that have been identified. The plan could include recommendations for creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture. For example, the plan may recommend that the organisation provide training on cultural awareness and sensitivity to all employees, or that the organisation implement a diversity and inclusion committee to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Verita has a track record of investigating workplace cultures and advising organisations how they can change for the better.  If we can help you to get a clearer picture of your organisation’s culture, please book a free consultation or contact Ed Marsden on 020 7494 5670 or [email protected].


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