Diversity in the workplace. It can be a hot-buttoned topic. Discussions around it can make people uncomfortable, bring up cultural and racial sensitivities, and more. But it’s an important discussion to have.
Companies that actively work to diversify their staff aren’t just on the right side of history, they’re also making a change that will benefit their businesses overall financial success. Hiring with diversity in mind broadens your candidate pool, giving you more freedom of choice, and better opportunity to build your corporate culture.
When discussing diversity, it’s important to note that while yes, a big part of diversity is gender and race, it also includes consideration for culture, education and experience. Being unwilling to consider candidates who gained their skills in a less traditional manner will only negatively impact your business, because you’ll run the risk of losing out on great talent.
A diverse workforce improves business in a variety of ways, which we'll look at in more detail below.
It’s in the Science
Over the past decade, numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of workplace diversity. These studies have continuously demonstrated that diversity in employment benefits companies in many ways, including:
- Improved employee engagement
- Better group decision making
- Younger workers believe diverse organizations are more innovative
These are only a few studies demonstrating the benefits of diversity in the workplace. But they all say the same thing: diversity improves overall performance of business.
It Enhances Creativity
“Two heads are better than one.” We’ve all heard the saying. But there is truth to it. When people work in groups they’re able to bounce ideas off one another and build on suggestions. When you add diversity to the group—you’re only adding more opportunity for unique solutions.
Different backgrounds lead to different perspectives. More perspective leads to more creativity—why? Because differing viewpoints generate different ideas, and new ways of doing things.
Creativity in the workplace builds stronger sales tactics, unique marketing campaigns, and encourages engagement.
It Benefits Corporate Leadership
As noted earlier in this post, there’s a lot of science to back up the argument for diversity in the workplace. That includes diversifying leadership roles.
A study by BCG found that increased diversity in leadership roles resulted in improved financial performance. It also leads to more and better innovation. Yet, two out of three companies still struggle with gender balance on leadership teams. Four out of five corporations lack a representative proportion of people of colour in leadership roles. The worst culprit? Board of directors, which on average lack representation for women and people of colour.
Studies have shown that diversity doesn’t just mean gender and race. Companies such as Coca Cola and Deutsche Telekom, who looked beyond their respective countries when it came time to hire for leadership roles, saw an increase in innovation that led to better profits. (It’s important to note, Deutsche Telekom also focused on decreasing the gender gap in management, and now their supervisory board is 40% female).
Innovation means challenging orthodoxies, often those that aren’t easy to see, including hive mentality. When your leadership is made up of different people, you’re bringing in different mind sets, and new ways to think and view problems.
Diversity Offers Improved Communication
Workplace diversity encourages improved communication. Incorporating people from different countries into your company changes its very fabric. It makes it richer as they bring new influence based on culture and language.
Diversity includes people who speak different languages—this broadens your company’s capabilities to communicate with more people.
Diversity also encourages self-expression, something that should always be encouraged in the workplace. But this can be particularly difficult for visible minorities.
Using employee surveys is a safe way to encourage staff to voice their opinions, feelings and concerns.
Creating an inclusion and diversity group can help your employees learn about cultural differences in attitude and communication, and give a voice to those who traditionally feel unheard. This type of group is all about communication. It brings people from various backgrounds together and asks them to work towards a goal—that of creating a workplace that benefits everyone.
Building a Better Company Culture
Diversifying the workplace is easy. When companies offer opportunities beyond the traditional spheres—they broaden their candidate pool, offering more talent to choose from.
While diversity strengthens profits, it also builds corporate culture—something that matters greatly to Millennials and Gen Z. A diverse workforce also includes a well-constructed HR strategy focused on diversified benefits, to meet the needs of a wide-ranging and unique workforce.