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Monday, 3 May 2021

Diversity in the workplace


by Nontobeko Sikhosana

Every company has a unique set of goals and the diversity practices must align with them to be successful.  Even today employees in organizations or libraries have different cultures and personalities. Diverse workforces help to increase profitability. Companies that look beyond the “culture fit” to focus on “culture add” will reap the rewards of a rich company culture.

To achieve diversity throughout the entire workforce, companies must intentionally recruit, hire and retain talent that is diverse in background, education and experience. These factors have an impact on an individual’s understanding of the world and are shaped by their race, gender, age, culture, religious and political beliefs, socioeconomic background, geographic location, sexual orientation, citizenship status, mental and physical conditions, and so on. When companies employ a diverse workforce, they benefit from the full spectrum of ideas, talent and creativity.

Diversity is not just about human resources and organizational culture for a library. The interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights by American Library Association (2006) states that librarians have an obligation to select and support the access to materials on all subjects that meet, as closely as possible the needs and interests of all persons in the community which the library serves. This includes materials that reflect political, economic, religious, social, minority, and sexual issues.

Libraries must have a clear sense of what diversity means to the organization before embarking upon collection assessment. Most colleges and universities have created non-discrimination and diversity statements that reflect the goals and values of the institution. Academic libraries should align their own definitions of diversity with that of the parent institution, while creating library-specific policies and guidelines that seek to ensure that all services, collections, processes, and procedures in the library meet the diversity goals of the library and the institution. Diversity collection assessment ensures that the goals of selecting, acquiring, and maintaining a collection that meets the diversity goals and needs of the institution are being met.

Diversity in academic libraries is thus beyond human resources, in a diverse library workforce, library users can find someone to relate to, and get services that are sensitive to their needs and preferences. Diversity also improves staff performance and overall library success.    


American Library Association (2006), “Diversity”, ALA Policy Manual, available at: www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/ governance/policymanual/index.cfm (accessed April 9, 2021).

American Library Association. 2006. Diverse Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights [Online]. Available: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/diversecollections [Accessed 21 April 2021].

Ciszek, M.P. and Young, C.L., 2010. Diversity collection assessment in large academic libraries. Collection Building.

Moran, C. 2019. What is diversity in the workplace?(And how to achieve it?) [Online]. Available: https://learn.g2.com/diversity-in-the-workplace [Accessed 09 April 2021].



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