By Roger D. Blumberg, SVP of Global Marketing, Scoutbee
Workplace diversity has become an increasingly burning issue over the last few years as more and more companies release their diversity numbers and employees begin to hold their employers accountable for living up to their promises to become more inclusive.
The fact is that in today’s competitive global business landscape, organizations simply can’t afford not to embrace diversity, and they need to actively support diverse employees in the workplace. In this blog post, we look at some of the benefits of workplace diversity and how your company can create and maintain a more diverse and inclusive company culture.
What is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity means employing people who differ in race, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, education level, and cognitive ability, among other things. A diverse workplace offers both companies and employees many advantages, including increased creativity and innovation and better financial performance.
Different types of workplace diversity
The most common types of diversity include:
- Physical and mental capabilities
- Marital status
- Financial status
- Political beliefs
- Knowledge, skills, and abilities
- Socio-economic status
Why is workplace diversity important?
In today’s globally interconnected market, workplace diversity is becoming a necessity rather than just a buzzword organizations throw around to demonstrate their dedication to encouraging differences.
Aided by new technologies, companies are now able to reach people all over the world. Companies with diverse workforces are better able to understand cultural differences, and to acknowledge and leverage them to successfully create, present, and sell their products and services in the global marketplace.
Workplace diversity also influences employees’ engagement and productivity levels considerably, having a direct impact on a company’s success. Effective business leaders know this and actively drive diversity and inclusion in their organizations.
5 benefits of workplace diversity
A diverse workplace is not just something that looks good on your company website; it also has many direct, demonstrable benefits. Here, we take a look at just a few of them:
Greater creativity and innovation through broader perspectives
Workplace diversity encourages team members with different mindsets to come together and exchange their unique perspectives. Diverse employees have varied experiences, viewpoints, and skill sets that can help companies develop innovative ideas and solutions, which attract clients and boost sales. Diversity of thought also leads to better problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
Increased employee engagement and performance
Diversity in the workplace creates a nurturing work environment. People of different ages, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds feel more comfortable working with each other, fostering camaraderie and leading to happier employees and increased productivity. When employee satisfaction is high, it also creates value for the organization in the form of lower absenteeism, more effective collaboration, and decreased staff turnover.
Better financial performance
It has been proven that diverse organizations outperform those with less diverse workforces. According to a report by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and companies in the same bracket for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Another study indicates that companies with above-average diversity realize an average of 45% innovation revenue.
Attract and retain talent
A survey conducted by Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers and 57% of employees think their companies should be more diverse. Having a diverse workforce is of particular importance to underrepresented groups – 32% of employees and job seekers said they would not apply for a job at a company where there is a lack of diversity. So, whether or not your organization is interested in increasing its diversity, most candidates are nonetheless evaluating this aspect of your company during the hiring process.
Boost your company’s reputation and brand
Companies that promote diversity are considered friendlier and more socially responsible. If your company is viewed as lacking inclusion, some customers may not be keen to give you their business. This is especially true of Millennial and Gen Z customers as these two generations are extremely socially conscious. If your company isn’t seen to be actively supporting diversity, you may miss out on opportunities to increase sales, develop strong customer relationships, and ultimately enhance your profitability.
More needs to be done
However, even with all the benefits workplace diversity delivers and the great initiatives many organizations are undertaking, there’s still significant room for improvement. A report by Glassdoor reveals the discrimination reported to be taking place within workplaces across four countries, with dramatic differences in each:
- Employed adults in the US are more likely to have experienced or witnessed discrimination based on race, age, gender, or LGBTQ status (61%) than those in the UK (55%), France (43%) and Germany (37%).
- 42% of employed adults in the US have experienced or witnessed racism in the workplace; the highest percentage of the four countries surveyed (37% in the UK, 30% in France, 24% in Germany).
- Ageism seems to be more prevalent in the US and UK – 45% of US employees and 39% of UK employees have experienced or witnessed this form of discrimination (compared to 29% of French employees and 22% of German employees).
The same report also revealed that 50% of employed adults across all four countries believe their employer should be doing more to increase diversity and inclusion.
What can organizations do to promote and manage workplace diversity?
According to a report by Gartner, when preparing and evaluating your plan to promote workplace diversity, there are three questions you need to ask yourself:
- Why is diversity important to this organization? Clearly state why diversity matters and why it is essential to the organization in internal and external communications.
- What is our plan to achieve our goals? Take into account the organization’s past and present diversity and inclusion initiatives to create a powerful, action-focused diversity strategy. Work with leaders throughout the organization to boost diversity across all processes.
- Who is going to be accountable for making sure we reach our objectives? Evaluate, adjust, or establish accountability procedures throughout the company to make certain the diversity strategy’s objectives are being met and assessed regularly.
If this all sounds a bit daunting, here are some practical tips to get you started:
- Post your open positions on diverse job boards
- Offer targeted internships to underrepresented groups
- Highlight diversity on your careers page
- Create a diverse interview panel
- Provide unconscious bias training for recruiters
Workplace diversity offers many benefits to all organizations, regardless of size, industry, or location. The value of a diverse workplace cannot be overestimated as it enables businesses to quickly adapt to industry trends and the needs of global audiences. Without diversity, businesses are unable to outperform their competitors and will not survive in today’s ever-changing business world.
A note from Scoutbee: We’re constantly working hard to increase workplace diversity in our own organization and we like to hold up our marketing team as a shining example of where we’d like to be as a company in general. This team alone has eight people of eight different nationalities, and is evenly split between men and women ranging in age from mid-twenties to late-fifties – believe us when we say that we reap the benefits of this diversity every day!