The Workplace Diversity Advantage

By Jamie Davidson · March 28, 2019

Diversity. The word has been tossed around a lot lately. In Hollywood. In government. And in business. But, it’s more than a buzzword, a quota to achieve, or a box to tick off. Diversity is also more than just race or gender. A diverse group is multi-dimensional and includes a variety of unique factors and characteristics, some innate and some learned or acquired. Beyond the explicit, a diverse group includes people of different ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and physical abilities.

Diversity is essential to a company’s long-term success. Not only does a dimensional mix ensure that a company reflects its customers and communities, but it also helps drive innovation. True diversity is achieved when it’s embedded in the culture of the company. Without this, a company is at risk of stagnating or declining.  Here are seven reasons why diversity in the workplace is critical to both employee and business growth, as well as executable tips on how to incorporate it into the heart of your workplace.

Diversity Attracts High-Quality Talent

Like attracts like. A diverse workplace catches the attention of top talent and has access to a much larger pool of applicants. Two-thirds of people reported that diversity was an important factor in evaluating potential companies and job offers. Findings by PWC indicate that roughly half of the people they surveyed had researched whether a company had diversity and inclusion policies in place before deciding to accept a job offer. An even higher percentage had investigated whether the company had a diverse leadership team.

So, why is diversity attractive to high-quality candidates? According to Deloitte, 78% of people believe diversity and inclusion are competitive advantages for companies. And competitive advantage means long-term stability and success.

Is your workplace diversity-friendly? Does the environment promote inclusivity? Is your place of business wheelchair accessible? Are there gender-neutral restrooms? Are job postings listed across various websites and platforms? Does HR have a policy of blind hiring? When inclusivity is not championed, businesses miss out on hiring any number of intelligent, driven, and passionate people.

Diversity Encourages Better Employee Performance

Diversity is attractive to top talent, and once hired it allows employees to perform at their best. After all, workplaces that promote inclusivity and equality end up with employees who feel happier and more comfortable at work. And people who feel comfortable and accepted are more engaged, motivated, and productive. They also tend to have less absenteeism.

Diverse teams of employees have been shown to work exceptionally well together. Diverse teams make better decisions and outperform individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time. Not only can diverse groups make better decisions and solve problems better, but they can also do it faster than individuals and non-diverse teams.

Diversity Fosters Increased Innovation

Embracing diversity results in increased productivity and greater innovation. Inclusive companies are almost 2x more likely to become industry innovation leaders. Companies that are ranked in the top 25% for gender diversity on executive teams are 27% more likely to exhibit superior value creation. Not only does this growth in creativity and innovation result in more competitive products and services for your company, but it also leads to more efficient processes for the workplace.

Employees with different backgrounds see problems from distinct perspectives. These contributions allow for new and unique solutions to business problems. To encourage innovation and creativity, management needs to also promote diversity of thought and decision-making processes. Too much reliance on traditional problem-solving methods discourages innovation. Plus, unconscious biases can lead to novel ideas being improperly evaluated or unfairly dismissed.

Diversity Brings In Broader Skill Sets

Just as employees with different backgrounds see problems differently, they also tend to embody different sets of skills. Therefore, cultivating a diverse workforce creates a company with access to a complete toolbox of abilities and competencies.

A brief review of age diversity can help illustrate this point further. Currently, in the United States, there are five distinct generations engaged in today’s workforce. Each age group encompasses unique sets of skills and abilities – partly due to their length of professional experience and partially due to the socioeconomic times in which they were raised. By recruiting team members across these broad age ranges and promoting collaboration between them, you can leverage the skills of each for the greater benefit of the whole.

For instance, the tech-savvy younger generations can help businesses adopt new technologies to increase efficiencies. While the emotional intelligence of the older generations can improve problem-solving with critical thinking and lead to the successful execution of new ideas. Promoting cross-generational mentorship allows employees to learn from each and to create synergistic growth throughout the company.

Diversity Means the Elimination of Groupthink

Even if you haven’t heard of groupthink you have most likely experienced it. Groupthink occurs when a team of intelligent and well-intentioned people makes poor or irrational decisions due to a desire to conform or be accepted by the others in the group. This results in a ‘herd mentality’ where people are unwilling to speak up against the group or question decisions.

The good news is that by supporting diversity and inclusiveness, you reduce the chances of groupthink occurring. Don’t create teams of like-minded or like-experienced employees. Try to regularly mix up collaborative teams. Take advantage of the entire company workforce to ensure unbiased and fresh ideas are brought to the table.

Diversity Creates Personalized Customer Interactions

The current U.S. population is diverse and growing more so with every generation. Yet, even though more than half of Americans are women, and “non-whites” are becoming the majority in a number of states, the average workforce does not yet reflect this trend.

Having a diverse workforce that reflects the communities around you provides many benefits — both for customers and businesses. Hiring employees who are representative of different segments of a target audience will lead to a better understanding of customers. This can help in the creation of products and services that customers value and messaging that resonates with them.

A diverse team also results in employees who are better able to empathize with customers. Not only can this produce better, more personalized solutions, but it can also improve customer service and support interactions that lead to loyalty and retention. Customers like to speak with people who understand their specific issues and can offer tailored solutions. Companies with a diverse workforce are more likely to capture new markets compared to non-diverse companies. Who doesn’t like new customers?

Diversity Boosts Financial Growth

A diverse workforce can also lead to significant revenue growth and long-term gains across the organization. This intuitively makes sense when you consider all the benefits that we’ve covered. Greater productivity and innovation from talented employees with broad skill sets will result in lower costs. For instance, BCG has found that companies that increase the diversity of management teams improved financial performance.

Add in a greater number of customers, who are happier and more loyal, and you also get increased revenues and profit that can be reinvested for even greater growth and success. Many research studies back up these claims.

Do the Right Thing

At the end of the day, the goal of any business is to make money. Incorporating diversity policies and actively championing inclusion leads to better outcomes for recruitment, company culture, and the bottom line. To promote inclusivity and achieve ongoing innovation:

  • Create an actionable policy of diversity and inclusion.
  • Seek out diverse talent and incorporate a blind-hire policy.
  • Reflect customer demographics.
  • Encourage collaboration, networking, and cross-mentorship among employees
  • Design a management structure based on their ability to overcome unconscious biases and cultivate diverse teams.
  • Reward non-traditional perspectives and independent thinking.

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