Workplace Diversity: A Lesson From Dubai

Could a tolerance watchdog make a difference in your workplace?

Posted by Dawn Lomer in on February 10th, 2016

When Dubai’s ruler His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced cabinet changes that included plans for the creation of new ministries for tolerance and happiness he highlighted an issue that has taken center-stage in recent years.

While there was some criticism of the moves, considering the country’s domestic human rights record and support of the war in Yemen, among other regional conflicts, there was a lot of support for an initiative that was unexpected and bold, considering the cultural struggle that goes on constantly in the UAE.

Dubai has a predominantly expat population and, having been one of them for five years, I saw first-hand the dichotomy that resulted from a Muslim country hosting a large number of Western expats and tourists. Signs in shopping malls remind people to be respectful of the culture of Emiratis by covering up properly. Likewise, the local population takes a relatively tolerant approach to the Western practices that may rub a little uncomfortably against the boundaries of their faith and lifestyle.

And so, as Sheikh Mohammed tweeted to his 5.5 million followers, the new minister of state for tolerance would be responsible for steering governmental policy in a way that promotes tolerance as a fundamental value in UAE society.

Taking Tolerance to the Workplace

Good workplace relationships develop in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.
Given the worldwide attention tolerance is getting in the aftermath of a US election that saw it take a hit, now would be a great time to bring tolerance to work.  We could start by making sure that every policy implemented, every rule being enforced, every new standard being adopted and every decision made in the company should at least recognize the importance of, if not promote, an atmosphere of tolerance. And how about actually making a person responsible, as part of his or her job, for ensuring the company is promoting tolerance at all levels? A tolerance watchdog, so to speak.

Good workplace relationships develop in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. And good workplace relationships help everyone do their jobs better and foster an environment in which employees aren’t afraid to speak up about their concerns. Good relationships promote creativity and new ideas. Employees who feel comfortable with one another can channel the energy they would have expended on conflict into more productive areas of their jobs.

Importance of Workplace Diversity

Appointing a tolerance watchdog in your organization would send a clear message about the importance of diversity and inclusion to the company, setting an expectation for behavior that is respectful and fair.
Melissa Lamson, a consultant and author of the Global Intelligence blog, suggests that inclusion and diversity are key indicators of workplace tolerance. “As our organizations become more global, we need to recognize that needs have changed,” she writes. “Ensure your diversity programs are reflecting what’s happening in society and that your organization has a clear stance on advocating for the rights of all groups and dimensions of diversity—not just a few.”

Appointing a tolerance watchdog in your organization would send a clear message about the importance of diversity and inclusion to the company, setting an expectation for behavior that is respectful and fair. It would also help to show your commitment to non-discriminatory behavior should it ever be questioned in the courts or in the court of public opinion.


Dawn Lomer
Dawn Lomer

Managing Editor

Dawn Lomer is the managing editor at i-Sight Software and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She writes about topics related to workplace investigations, ethics and compliance, data security and e-discovery, and hosts i-Sight webinars.

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