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‘How to’ guide to promoting diversity in the plumbing workplace

Creating a culture of tolerance and inclusion can be a valuable asset to your plumbing business.

Diversity has long ceased being regarded just as another buzzword – it’s the key that can unlock expansion of your business. It’s a business characteristic that sets your plumbing business part – a quality to be sought after and thereafter protected. Diversity is an asset providing you with a greater multitude of perspectives of situations to draw upon; a broader range of experiences. It almost always yields a greater range of strengths among a team.

But diversity doesn’t happen by chance. Smart business owners actively encourage it by creating a culture of tolerance and inclusion. Here are some practical tips on how you can follow suit:

  • Provide regular training. Team training is a powerful tool to promote diversity and tolerance. Get the team to come up with different ways for each other to learn from another together.
  • Have diversity incorporated into your written mission statement. Speaking of vision and values, make it clear in your mission statement to your team members and your customers that tolerance is central to your business.
  • Lead by your personal example. It goes without saying that you have to lead from the front. Don’t engage in behaviour that belittles or demeans people of a certain gender or ethnic background. That way, you empower the rest of your team to do the same. Always make a point that your own personal interactions with all people are respectful and well mannered.
  • Unity through vision. There are bound to be many things that make each of your team members different, but emphasise the things that bring about unity — including you company’s vision and values. In meetings, always make sure everyone knows what the company is trying to achieve, and how their role fits into the big picture.
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy in place for discrimination. Any behaviour that ridicules others over differences should be banned — plain and simple. This should be spelled out in employment policies and made clear in a specific, written, formal policy. The point should be clearly made when signing on all new employees.
  • Practice non-punitive conflict resolution. Diverse backgrounds and perspectives can occasionally lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications through language and cultural differences. A non-punitive conflict resolution is a way to deal with this that doesn’t punish anyone, make anyone wrong or target anyone’s background as being the source of the problem or somehow unworthy.
  • Encourage collaboration. Assign plumbing projects not to individuals but to diverse teams. Make sure a work flow exists where everyone works with everyone else to avoid the formation of cliques or working in seclusion.
  • Have avenues in place to collect staff ideas and suggestions. This is a means of having everyone feel like their voice can be heard. As the plumbing business owner, you should actively seek suggestions or proposals from all members of your team by instilling a workplace culture in which ideas are never ridiculed or rejected out of hand. This does not mean you have to accept every idea that’s put forward – just seriously consider them.

Again, diversity is a good thing, but not something that just happens automatically. It has to be worked at in order to have a team where tolerance and inclusion are prized. The tips here should provide some useful ways to be intentional as you build diversity in a team that finds strength through its differences.


By Eamonn Ryan


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