What is diversity in the workplace? It can be defined in broad terms such as social culture, gender, religious and political beliefs, race, educational backgrounds, age, or anything socio-economical. When diversity is present in a workplace there is more to gain and nothing to lose.
Diversity is a word often thrown around in today's business world. Many companies want to have more diverse teams or leadership, but try and do so without knowing why diversity is important or where to start.
Keep in mind that diversity initiatives should never be implemented just for the sake of diversity itself. Putting in place policies with the sole purpose of making the workplace "more colorful" can end up hurting the company more than it helps.
“Successful companies are not the ones that build a business, then look at diversity as a nice-to-have attribute. Truly successful and innovative companies are those that build diverse teams when they are just starting out in their own apartment or their folks’ garage. Diversity is a mentality, not just strategic imperative”. -Ekaterina Walker, Forbes
Instead of diversity being the "seasoning" added to established businesses, we at ProSky hope that organizations can be built on a diverse foundation. In order to better understand why this is so important, we have laid out what we believe to be the top nine benefits that come from having a diverse organization:
Employees are better at adapting to changes and differences when they work with people different than themselves. By working with diverse co-workers you can open your mind to new ideas and improve interpersonal relationships at work. People are also able to face challenges easier because employees can learn how to accept and embrace ideas from people vastly different than themselves.
With each person’s unique background, it allows them to bring different ideas and perspectives to the table. By having a melting pot of employees, creative and fresh ideas are created. Employees are able to learn and grow from each other and retention has been shown to increase throughout the company. The various perspectives and fresh ideas would likely not be possible in a more homogeneous group.
Through improving our adaptability, we can expand our range of viewpoints. By becoming more open-minded to new cultures, ethnicities, and customs- we are able to represent the beliefs of people across the globe.
Diversity can also create an opportunity for many markets to be opened, such as international markets. Different languages can help reach more platforms globally and make a company more relatable. It also gives you more diverse teams who can collectively come up with more innovative solutions that relate to your company's audience and the issues at hand.
In Ekaterina Walter's article for Forbes, Reaping The Benefits Of Diversity For Modern Business Innovation, she included a quote from James Surowiecki in her article that states:
“Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.”
By working with diverse and different people, conflict is bound to happen. However, the struggle of learning to compromise and working past those conflicts is where great success is born. Positive conflict can lead to more innovative solutions to problems and help avoid harmful groupthink or tunnel vision. Teams should come out of these conflicts stronger and better equipped for the future.
By working with people from different backgrounds we are given the opportunity to challenge ourselves. Diversity fosters improved knowledge on how to communicate with different people and new attitudes. In addition to this, having knowledge of multiple languages in your company or business is SO important in today’s society. Your company may have clients in Japan, Germany, or any other country, and knowing certain phrases in that language can make that client feel much more comfortable. Even being aware of signs of respect/disrespect in different cultures can be important; it may be inappropriate to shake hands in one culture, but expected in another. Having employees from different cultures can help alleviate these issues and make your customer relationships that much better.
A Harvard Business Review study found that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client. Members will feel more empowered and comfortable speaking up and sharing ideas. Improving communication can contribute to a higher concentration of more thorough and diverse solutions.
Across the internet and in society you find complaints of the millennial generation. Who do they think they are? Stuck-up. Lazy. Don’t want to work hard. You name it, someone, somewhere has complained about them. However, millennials are now at the age where they are breaking into the workforce. Now, the baby boomers and Generations X and Y will have to find a way to work with these youngsters. They will have a lot to learn, but they also have a lot to offer the older generation.
Millennials are the generation with the most knowledge in technology- which also happens to be one of the highest paying industries. They know what other millennials like to see on the internet; what’s streaming, what’s going viral, etc. Older generations, can learn from this and also gain fresh, new perspectives on all aspects of life.
On the flip side, the baby boomers and generations X and Y can impart advice and experience to the younger generation, keeping some traditions and customs in the workplace. When the executives at the top get involved with the onboarding process, they will see all the ways in which they can hire for the company’s best interest and that includes a much more diverse talent pool.
Having women or men in jobs that are predominantly one way or the other is just as important. An example that is actually affecting today’s society is having women in more science and math jobs to break the norm of the industry, or having more men in nursing.
Gender Diversity can bring so much to an organization- different viewpoints, market insights, and once again as stated previously, can make clients, customers, or patients (depending on the job) feel more comfortable. In an article by ASME, Joanne McGrath Cohoon, an associate professor at the University of Virginia says,
“Researchers at Stanford University recently published new findings that women engineering students perform as well as men, but are more likely than men to switch to a different major, (...) These women switch because they don't believe that their skills are good enough and they don't feel like they fit in engineering.”
This finding comes back to the culture in the workplace. It is important to create an atmosphere that is consistent for women and men alike so that you don’t lose valuable employees.
Attract More Talent
Companies that encourage diversity are more likely to attract and retain better and more diverse talent. When a company is diverse they are also more likely to attract different skills and talents that a company without diversity may not obtain.
Diversity is something that many great candidates look for in a company. In fact, 67 percent of candidates look for a diverse workplace when looking at job offers and evaluating companies. In a tight job market having that diversity can be crucial in having that star candidate in your company.
People want to know that the culture of the company they are applying to embraces diversity; enhancing this will attract more talent your way. It's somewhat of a ripple effect. When you hire people from diverse backgrounds, you open the door to even more diverse candidates and talent pools.
Hiring from more different majors, ethnicities or genders can help add people to your team that have varying problem-solving skills, which can be a huge benefit to your organization. If you hire people from different backgrounds and with different experiences, you will get more unique approaches to solving everyday problems.
By positioning the culture of your company as one that embraces people from many different backgrounds, you will be able to appeal to a wide variety of talent. Especially talent you may not have even realized you were searching for.
Challenging & Retaining Talent
A diverse group of employees tend to carry a higher retention rate and helps to attract a wider talent pool. A more culturally advanced company shows there is more room for progression and success.
People want to grow in their careers; without diversity, people may begin to feel stagnant. Hiring people from diverse backgrounds helps make for a stronger and cohesive team that flourishes. In an article by HBR, Paul Block of Merisant pointed out,
“People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs”
Mixing together different perspectives and insights will open the door to an environment with more “give-and-take”. When your employees are able to take something new from their job each day, it will entice them to stay put.
Retention rates are higher in a diverse workplace. People want to feel accepted no matter their background and heard. And sometimes if you're a minority in a certain age, race, gender, income level, etc, it creates barriers. It makes it hard for one to feel confident enough to speak up in a group setting, which could eliminate those fresh ideas and solutions discussed above. In an environment where people are comfortable and confident, you will also find increased employee performance and higher morale.
Diverse Organizations Are More Creative and Perform Better
Diverse companies outperform their competitors. A study found that diverse companies were 35 percent more likely to outperform their competitors. When companies dedicate themselves to more diversity, they open the door to endless opportunities.
When we have people working together with different experiences and lifestyles, better brainstorming and problem solving occur. Having this helps people to not get stuck in the “norm” of how things are “always done”. Cherish this, as change and innovation can bring your company to the next level! According to a Forbes study,
“Of companies that make at least $500 million, 85% of them agree that one of the most crucial aspects of fostering creativity and innovation is having a diverse workforce”.
Using ProSky's platform, you can ask potential employees to actually complete projects and challenges to see what they can do. Candidates can also get a better feel for what their position might be. If you want to increase the creativity in your workforce, think about diversifying your employees!
Building Lasting Customer Relationships
Diversity can serve to strengthen your customer relationships. Many people like to see a diverse workforce; it makes them feel welcomed and encouraged to interact and work with your company. When a diverse client base can find someone to connect to-it makes them more likely to have a good relationship with your company. The Sydney Morning Herald suggests,
“Bottom line results reveal a strong connection between a team's knowledge of their customers and the ability to target their approach accordingly. Put quite simply, when people within the organization understand the people they are selling to, better results typically follow.”
Diversifying your talent pool will not just help bridge language barriers, but it will help with understanding the nature of your relationship as well. Many times clients want to deal with only a certain type of person and understanding why that may be the case can help you cultivate that relationship and others in the future. At the end of the day when the client is happy, your business is doing better.
Check out this TED Talk about tips for understanding cross-cultural communication and using this skill to benefit your workplace!
Diversity & Corporate Social Responsibility
According to Diversity Best Practices, companies are judged on the basis of their treatment of employees and customers, and increasingly, their impact on social issues. CSR programs have a unique opportunity to influence corporate decision-making and champion diversity and inclusion (D&I).
Today’s global companies are intrinsically connected to the consumers they serve, the people they employ, and the communities in which they operate. Sometimes diversity within a business can create a make or break decision for the consumer. In an article by Chron, they assessed that
“Workplace diversity is important within the organization as well as outside. Business reputations flourish when companies demonstrate their commitment to diversity through aggressive outreach and recruiting efforts.
An organization known for its ethics, fair employment practices and appreciation for diverse talent is better able to attract a wider pool of qualified applicants. Other advantages include loyalty from customers who choose to do business only with companies whose business practices are socially responsible”.
When companies practice social responsibility, they are working in part to greater benefit society as a whole. This could be through different ways such as supporting charities, volunteering, or helping the environment. When consumers can also connect to you on a moral basis, it will help to build loyal relationships.