Human Resources

HR Tips for Manufacturers (Part 3 of 3): Addressing Differences and Diversity

In the last of this three part series HR Tips for Manufacturing, we discuss the importance of how to address differences in the workplace and cultural diversity. These topics deserve equal attention and are very important to the success of your organization.

Diversity in the Workplace

Human Resource departments should be a champion for diversity in the workplace. The term diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and people with disabilities. HR is responsible for ensuring Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) laws are obeyed. These laws make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of their protected status.


Cultural diversity should be celebrated in the workplace because a diverse workforce is better able to meet the needs of a diverse clientele. A diverse staff provides diversified perspectives in meeting the needs of your customer base. Celebrating the diversity of an organization allows all members to feel their values, beliefs and experiences are fully appreciated. Incorporate cultural diversity awareness throughout the workplace during the entire year rather than highlighting it once a year with a luncheon or diversity fair.

Ten Suggestions

Incorporating different cultural groups in the workplace can be challenging when multiple languages are spoken. The following is a list of ideas of how to ensure all employees hear the same message.

  1. Translate all relevant documents into the primary language of your employees. Many free translation websites are available online. Be aware of nuances in translation they could cause a misunderstanding.
  2. Use an interpreter when you give instructions or feedback to employees. Try to identify a bilingual employee to help translate.
  3. Provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The instruction should provide words, phrases, warnings, and other critical communication elements necessary for employees to satisfactorily perform their job.
  4. Provide spoken and visual examples for training purposes. Demonstrate what you want and then have the employees perform the function as you observe their performance. Re-demonstrate as often as needed until the employees can perform the task successfully.
  5. Use pictures in your instruction manuals rather than words alone. Almost every step in every process can be described in picture format. Give employees signs, cue cards, or other methods to help them learn.
  6. Use repetition when teaching new skills or techniques. Most employees regardless of a language barrier need to hear the same message over and over before they fully grasp it
  7. Never raise your voice or speak in an exaggerated manner. Speak clearly not loudly.
  8. Use simple language to convey your message but do not condescend because it is offensive
  9. Meet employees halfway and learn frequently used words and phrases in their language. This gesture demonstrates your willingness to learn from them as well.
  10. Make sure your message was received by asking employees to demonstrate their understanding. This reduces the possibility for confusion or mistakes.

HR Solutions Available for NJ Manufacturers

NJMEP and its partners offer a variety of HR solutions to support the NJ manufacturing community including assessments, talent management, interim or acting HR director or team services, organizational development initiatives, customized training programs and project-specific engagements.

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