Few would dare to argue against the view that diversity in the workplace is a good thing. But if you were in any doubt, Eric Shepherd gives you eight reasons why your organization needs to take the subject seriously.
Advances in technology have revolutionized how we work and interact. Conferencing tools enable us to work with colleagues, customers, and vendors all over the world without ever leaving our office. Demographic shifts have made teamwork increasingly multicultural. Research by the consulting firm McKinsey found correlations between financial performance and diversity in teams. That is why cultivating a diverse employee base is essential. It allows organizations to reflect their market and evolve ideas to cater to our changing world.
A diverse workplace defined
Before we discuss the real benefits, it is worth defining what we mean by diversity. In its simplest terms, it refers to those characteristics that set us apart. These traits range from the apparent to the less visible. They include our ethnicity, gender, age, education, and capabilities. Diversity is not an end in itself, but a means of creating an environment where everyone can feel respected and involved regardless of their differences. Although diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in the Boardroom, they are more than just a fad. They have tangible advantages that can help organizations overtake their competitors and become more profitable.
Most job seekers prioritize salary packages, career progression, and work-life balance. But increasingly job seekers and employees look to associate with an employer who values diversity and inclusion. They, like employers, know that it will have a positive impact on their careers.
Benefits of Diversity
Employers who actively promote diversity and inclusion seem to stay ahead of market trends and technological change. They empower their employees to follow suit by offering them an inspiring workplace. Let's take a closer look at the benefits that flow in this new world of work:
Employees hailing from different backgrounds bring a wider range of experiences and perceptions to the table. And when a more comprehensive range of views are considered and adopted, the chances that they will reflect shifting client needs are brighter. Teams of broadly diverse employees are more likely to capture a new market.
Diversity promotes creativity by allowing different perspectives to fuse together. Individuals with varying views on a single issue will create a melting pot of new ideas. This opens the door to innovation and greater originality in the execution of organizational strategies.
Employees from different age groups can create a win-win scenario. Fresh graduates can be paired with more mature colleagues to make them conversant with new technology. In turn, the younger groups can learn the ropes from their older co-workers and their accumulated wealth of experience.
A more diverse workforce tends to display faster problem-solving abilities than their cognitively similar counterparts. Studies suggest that people holding distinctive views not only come up with inventive solutions but also arrive at decisions faster. Diverse teams outperform individuals and make better and more informed decisions.
Diversity is more likely to lead to higher profits. By not restricting their hiring to a particular group of people, employers gain access to a broader range of talented and qualified candidates. This translates into a real advantage that drives improved KPIs.
Effective diversity and inclusion policies cause employees to feel more engaged. Engaged employees are more likely to align their agenda with the organization's vision. This can reduce turnover rates as employees experience greater satisfaction and empathy with their organization.
Workplace diversity appeals to top talent. High-caliber employees already understand the benefits of stimulating teams. Alongside raising the organization's status as a socially responsible enterprise, it can create opportunities for new partnerships.
Employees who work for organizations that are respectful of diversity develop and use their soft skills. Frequent exposure to different ideas and opinions helps refine interpersonal skills and instills a sense of curiosity. Individuals that adapt to divergent ways of thinking can be encouraged to learn new expertise from colleagues. This facilitates the transfer of knowledge throughout the organization.
For organizations to remain competitive in a globalized economy, it is no longer viable to recruit only those who can relate to a particular way of thinking, culture, geography, or market segment. Organizations will miss out on many insights and worldviews that could help them connect with a varied customer base. But, if diversity is present in a group, a creative tension arises from the different perspectives at play resulting in better problem-solving.
To keep pace with changes, organizations will need more creativity in their teams. Our future will require that we use technology that is yet to be invented. Works need to constantly up-skill to remain relevant and flourish. By putting together global teams that encompass diverse talents, growth mindsets, and professional experiences, organizations will develop employee pools that can transcend borders and enhance performance.
A recent survey found that over half of American workers are anxious that automation might take their jobs instead of creating new ones. In reality, it is not jobs that are being replaced but monotonous and mundane tasks. Future jobs will be more absorbing, nuanced, team-based, and internationally oriented than previously. As artificial intelligence becomes more pervasive, there will be a greater need for people with diversified skill sets and, thus, more diverse backgrounds. It is up to business leaders to ensure that they have a diverse set of employees that can take on this new world of work.