“People are much more willing to give [more] of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced.” – Apple CEO Tim Cook
Diversity. For years it has been recognized as something important for businesses. Yet, for years it has been something that businesses have neglected.
Instead of giving diversity in the workplace the cold shoulder, companies need to embrace it. Do not view diversity as a simple numbers game; it’s something to incorporate into everything your company does.
What is workplace equality? How does it relate to diversity?
Workplace equality occurs when everyone in the office is treated the same, no matter their differences. Equality means each individual at your work is treated equally regardless of his or her age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or physical disability.
Workplace equality is related directly to diversity in the workplace. Your company cannot only focus on hiring a diverse staff; you must ensure you are retaining them. You retain a diverse workforce through workplace equality.
There are two main types of diversity: inherent and acquired. Inherent diversity includes traits you are born with such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Acquired diversity involves features you gain from experience, such as working in another country or selling to female consumers.
Companies that maintain both types of diversity, through workplace equality, are more likely to experience numerous benefits and, overall, be more successful.
What are the advantages of workplace diversity?
There are several benefits a business receives from increased diversity in the workplace.
Better decision-making and problem-solving
A University of Michigan study found that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of higher-ability problem solvers. Diverse groups have varied backgrounds and differing skills, which aids in problem-solving.
More diversity allows a team to draw upon a wider range of experiences when solving a problem. These diverse teams can generate solutions that wouldn’t be possible for, higher-performing, but more homogeneous groups.
Additionally, team diversity leads to improved decision-making. Increased diversity allows a team to make a decision with a better-rounded point-of-view. Diversity can also help improve decision-making by cutting down on groupthink.
Groupthink occurs when a group makes a faulty decision because group pressures lead to a weakening of mental efficiency and moral judgment. This type of faulty decision-making is more likely to occur with a homogeneous group.
Diversity gives a team a wider range of experiences and beliefs. As a result, team members are less likely to give into a popular opinion if their beliefs conflict with it. This conflict helps to avoid the likelihood of groupthink.
Increased creativity and innovation
This variation can help generate new ideas relating to products and practices. Conversely, a homogeneous group that has similar experiences is more likely to generate more similar ideas.
Research has shown that groups that have increased diversity are more likely to experience:
— Enhanced creativity
— A broader understanding of market issues
— Newer ideas
— More spontaneous breakthroughs
More experiences also allow a group to alter the same idea into something different. For example, individuals with a different point-of-view can transform an initial idea, in a way that a homogeneous group could not.
Better service to MORE clients
This benefit is very intuitive. The more diverse your employees are, the abler you are to serve a wider range of clients, by associating with and understanding them. Not only are you able to serve a wider array of customers, but also you can serve them better.
Clients are more likely to be satisfied with an interaction if they feel connected to the employee. Consequently, a person is more liable to feel a connection with someone who can relate to them. This example is how diversity aids customer service.
Bigger and more qualified workforce
If you don’t actively recruit in ways that promote diversity, then you are severely limiting your company’s talent pool from which you hire.
When you fail to maximize female and minority talent, you are cutting your talent pool in half. This, in turn, limits the chance that your business is choosing the best candidate.
Companies that recruit from a diverse set of candidates are more likely to hire the most capable in the labor market. So, the more competitive a job market is, the more necessary it becomes for businesses to increase the diversity of the talent pools they explore.
More success, more money
We all know mo’ money means mo’ problems. But few know that mo’ diversity means mo’ money. Numerous statistics, studies, and surveys have shown that diversity doesn’t just give you “soft” benefits, it improves your bottom line.
The next section gives you ten statistics that demonstrate the positive impact diversity in the workplace has on a business’s success.
10 Statistics that prove the necessity of workplace diversity
1. Employees with “2-D” diversity, inherent and acquired diversity, are 45 percent more likely to report their firm’s market share grew over the previous year.
2. Employees with “2-D” diversity are 70 percent more likely to report that their company captured a new market over the previous year.
3. The increase in women’s overall share of labor in the U.S. (women went from holding 37 to 47 percent of all jobs over the past 40 years) has accounted for around a quarter of the current GDP.
4. In a Forbes study, of 321 global enterprises that made at least $500 million in annual revenue, 85 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace.
5. By 2050, it has been estimated that there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country. Your business will need a diverse workforce to match this new reality.
6. People of color own 1.9 million businesses that generate $165 billion in annual revenue and employ 1.2 million people.
7. Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform those that are not.
8. Ethnically diverse firms are 35 percent more likely to outperform those that are not.
9. Companies in the top quartile of executive-board diversity had an average return on equity that was 53 percent higher than companies in the bottom quartile of executive-board diversity.
10. The EBIT (Earnings before interest and tax) margins at the most diverse businesses were 14 percent higher, on average than those of the least diverse businesses.
How to promote workplace diversity
There are several steps your firm can take to promote diversity in the workplace. It is important to keep in mind that all of these measures require patience; increasing diversity is a long-term process.
Train every manager in your firm to promote diversity amongst their subordinates. Managers should be forced to:
— Identify their personal attitudes and biases regarding diversity
— Learn the benefits of organizational diversity
— Examine the culture and climate in their group or organization
— Support diversity through their actions and interactions
— Understand how to manage according to each individual’s talents and strengths
Most company-wide changes work best when they are implemented from the top down. Managers need to know why diversity is important to your business and how to support it.
Train managers on how to support diversity to increase the likelihood of employee buy-in. Employee buy-in is necessary to promote diversity throughout your organization.
Align diversity programs with strategic plans
Each of your diversity goals should align with the business-related goals your company has. Form your plan for diversity the same way you would a business plan. Every organization should ask themselves:
— What is the goal of diversity at our company?
— How broad is our diversity focus?
— What steps will we take to achieve greater diversity?
— How will we measure success?
Each company has to create a diversity strategy that helps them accomplish their business plan. To achieve this; the two plans need to align.
Form a diversity committee
As with managerial training, forming a diversity committee can be crucial to obtaining employee buy-in. This committee should have members representing all parts of your company’s workforce.
Enable the committee to be active within the organization and allow them to:
— Develop a diversity statement
— Organize diversity events
— Create programs that support diversity
Engage your community
Urge employees to participate in organizations throughout the community that foster diversity. Sponsor events that allow your company to interact with the community and cultivate a greater sense of diversity.
When you engage your community, you also demonstrate that diversity is important to your business. It shows both internal and external stakeholders that diversity is important to your company.
Evaluate your recruitment and hiring tactics
Your firm has to place an emphasis on equality in its hiring and recruitment procedures. If your candidate pool does not accurately reflect the region you are in or service, you may need to examine your recruitment strategy.
If your employees do not accurately reflect their community or your clients you may need to scrutinize your hiring processes. Your business has to seek to fine-tune its hiring and recruitment procedures to support maximum diversity.
Use the company intranet
Finally, use your company intranet, if you have one, to promote diversity in the workplace. Encourage the diversity committee to post regular updates and information regarding how your organization is currently boosting diversity.
Similarly, urge other employees to comment and post on subjects relevant to them, regarding your business’s diversity. Make the process as interactive as possible to increase employee buy-in.
Support diversity in the workplace across every facet of your organization. There is a copious amount of information and data that proves the numerous benefits diversity in the workplace can bring your business.
Diversity, like your inner-child, is something you should embrace.