No two humans are alike. “The Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”. This quote by Stephen Covey sends a clear message that it's the diversity which gives you more power and strength. It’s diversity which makes the work force heterogeneous and they perform better than the homogeneous teams in the long run. The companies which have greater workplace diversity outperform their competitors and achieve higher profits and growth.
Workforce diversity means the similarities and the differences among employees in terms of age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Teams with members from different cultural, educational, and ethnic backgrounds bring different points of reference to a problem and have the ability to spark an exciting and dynamic cross-pollination of ideas. This gives a strategic competitive advantage in an organizational and cultural context. The diverse workforce includes people with different characteristics so, it brings a lot of richness to a team too. Leaders and team members must value, encourage and reward diversity as this helps immensely in global expansion and innovation.
Diversity is beneficial for both associates and employers. Diversity in the workplace can reduce lawsuits and increase marketing opportunities, recruitment, creativity, and business image. In an era when flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness, diversity is critical for an organization’s success. The need to understand diversity is also driven by women in the workplace. Today’s workforce has the highest levels of employment participation ever by women. The number of dual income families and single working mothers has increased. Therefore, diversity issues cut across both race and gender.
Why is diversity at the workplace so important?
There are some very positive benefits of having a more diverse workforce. Let’s discuss few of the amazing benefits to individuals and the companies.
1 . Provides different perspectives: Diversity ensures a variety of different perspectives. Since diverse employees have different characteristics and backgrounds, they are also more likely to have a variety of different skills and experiences. Hence, they will have an access to a variety of different perspectives, which is highly beneficial when it comes to planning and executing a business strategy.
2. Increased productivity: Although, associates are interdependent at the workplace, respecting individual differences can increase productivity. A diverse company can lead to greater productivity. Maureen Wild says “When employees respect each other and get along in the workplace, it’s amazing how productivity increases, morale increases and employees are more courteous to customers”. As diversity brings in different talents together and when all of them work towards a common goal using different sets of skills, it results in higher outputs.
3. Improved creativity : Another benefit of diversity in the workplace is the increase in creativity among teams and the ability to have a more diverse set of solutions to specific problems. With so many different and diverse minds working together, many more solutions will arise as every individual brings in their personal way of thinking, operating and solving problems and then making the decisions collectively. Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace inspire all their employees to perform to their highest abilities.
4. Wider range of skills: When companies hire a more diverse workforce from all backgrounds, the employees inevitably bring their own specific skills, that can often be just as diverse. Having a wider range of skills and knowledge available to them, these companies often enjoy a more diverse and adaptable range of products and services that they can offer to their respective markets.
5.Faster problem-solving: Companies with higher workplace diversity solve the problems faster. A Harvard Business Review found diverse teams are able to solve problems faster than similar people. People from diverse backgrounds have different experiences and views, which is why they are able to bring diverse solutions to the table. Thus, the best solution is reached sooner, which leads to faster problem-solving.
6. Higher Profits: Companies with higher workplace diversity make more profits. McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, conducted research that included 180 companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. They found that companies with more diverse top teams were also top financial performers. Companies with a diverse workforce make better decisions, which gives them a serious advantage over their competitors. As a result, companies with diversity achieve better business results and reap more profit.
7.Higher innovation: Diversity leads to higher innovation rate. According to Josh Bersin's research, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in the market. In a diverse workplace, employees are exposed to multiple perspectives and worldviews. When these various perspectives combine, they often come together in novel ways, opening doors to more innovation.
8.Improves employee engagement: A better way to learn about other culture and ethnicity is from colleagues who come from a different background than your own. Learn them from employees during the lunch break or after work when you spend time with them. A pool of diverse employees get to learn more about each other’s lifestyle and culture. When your employees share their personal experiences about when they were in high school or what each festive season meant to them, they build a trusting relationship with their colleagues. This increases employee engagement and many a times increases employee motivation as well, which is great for the company.This is a proven value proposition which is exemplified by global business schools, students want to be part of a diverse cohort as it significantly adds to their peer learnings, both from a business as well as cultural standpoint.
9.Improves insights and reduces racism: By having a more diverse workforce, it is often found that employees spend more of their time with people, who are from backgrounds and orientations that they are often never exposed to. The end result of this is that employees learn new cultural insights and this in turn, reduces negative emotions such as racism, homophobia, sexism and the likes. It is very evident that an all male team typically indulges heavily in conversations around sexism and sport in general and that makes the team quite one dimensional when it comes to approaching any business problem as well. Throw in a more diverse team with women and people from the LGBTQ community and you would see that the team’s day to day conversations would change and so would their DNA over a period of time.
10.Reduces employee turnover: Diversity is extremely beneficial for employee retention. Companies with a diverse workforce are generally more inclusive of different individual characteristics and perspectives. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace cause all employees to feel accepted and valued. When employees feel accepted and valued, they are also happier in their workplace and stay longer with a company. As a result, companies with greater diversity in the workplace have lower turnover rates.
11.Positive Employer Branding: Companies that are dedicated to building and promoting diversity in the workplace are seen as good, more human and socially responsible organizations. Workplace diversity also makes your company look more interesting and boosts the company’s brand and reputation. Finally, if you present a diverse workforce, you will make it easier for many different people to relate to your company and your brand, opening doors to new markets, customers and business partners. Let us narrate you a story about the last part of the previous sentence, a large American Multinational Company was looking to outsource their finance operations and after evaluating some of the top vendors they awarded the deal to the organization which had more gender diversity in their top leadership team. This deal had a contract value of more that $500 million.
12.Better hiring results: Workplace diversity leads to better hiring results. It boosts a company’s employer brand and presents a company as a more desirable place to work. This is a much beneficial asset needed for attracting top talent from the diverse talent pools. According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important while considering job offers.
Next time when you are planning to hire new employees, make a sincere effort to hire a diverse range of people across all gender, age and cultural backgrounds. Your organisation would then enjoy a wide range of benefits, such as the ones we have mentioned in this article. All the best in increasing the diversity in your team and workforce!