We hear a lot of talk these days about the need to create a diverse workforce. Many companies have identified it as a key driver of business success, and many people see diversity as an attractive quality of a company, meaning it has an influence on people’s decisions about the companies they choose to work for…
But what does a diverse workforce really do for your company? How can it make you more successful? And what does a diverse workforce even mean? Let’s answer some of these questions so that you can see just how important diversity is to the success of your business.
What exactly do we mean by diversity?
Before going too far into how diversity can provide benefits to your business, it’s important to first define what we mean by diversity. We tend to jump right to racial diversity, and while this is certainly an important component of it, there’s more we need to consider.
As a result, we need to expand our understanding of diversity to include many different things. It’s helpful to have people from different racial and ethnic groups, as well as religious backgrounds, and nationalities, but it’s also important to employ people from different generations and who have had different life experiences.
Think about it. Would you want your entire workforce to have gone to the same set of schools and have all followed similar career paths to get to where they are today? Most likely not, which is why it’s important to define diversity as ‘overall difference’. The idea is to expand the variations amongst your employees so that your workforce can be more dynamic and exciting. And here’s why this is good for your business.
New ideas and perspectives
To survive in today’s business world, you must innovate. You cannot continue to do the same things over and over again and hope to remain successful. And diversity is a key driver of innovation, something that’s been proven by studies done on the tech industry. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, you’re injecting fresh perspectives into your thinking and collaboration.
Without diversity, you’d be putting your organization at risk of succumbing to groupthink, the phenomena that occurs when no one is willing to speak out against the majority for fear of upsetting group harmony or coherence.
It’s true that diversity alone will not prevent this from happening—you also need to work to develop an open flow of communication and a strong feedback culture—but it certainly gets you on the right track. It brings new ideas into the mix and forces your organization to think about things in a different way, which leads to more innovation, better products and better results.
A more dynamic work environment
The need for stimulation is an essential feature of human nature. Put more simply, we get bored if we do the same thing over and over again. And when we’re bored with what we do, we stagnate. We no longer push ourselves to try new things, and we’re no longer motivated to go above and beyond.
Strong workplace diversity can help you overcome this and create a more dynamic work environment for you and your company. By putting people together that come from different places and that have experienced different things, you’re giving your employees the chance to come into contact with lives very different from their own. This makes the working experience more exciting, and it can help make your workforce more engaged and motivated, which will increase productivity and overall profitability.
>See also: Agility through diversity
However, just being more diverse isn’t enough. You need to put diversity to work. It’s important to get people working together that might not normally collaborate, or to design programmes that allow people the chance to get to know their colleagues and what makes them unique. But this can be a challenge to do alongside your normal business functions. Hiring a human resource management firm can help you design programmes that increase the value diversity brings to your business and turn it into a tool for progress and a selling point for recruitment.
The term “customer experience” is also very popular these days. Consumers are very demanding in that they expect a world-class experience every time they come into contact with a brand. And for companies to achieve this, they need to take time to consider what their customers are going through, as this allows them to identify pain-points and develop solutions that will improve the overall experience.
In other words, you need to develop a culture of empathy. The better your employees are at understanding and identifying with the lived experience of others, the more successful they will be at figuring out where the customer experience can be improved so as to support overall business growth.
Working to build a more diverse workforce is a good place to start when building this culture. It allows you to practice empathy from within so that when you employ it in relation to customers and other users it will have a greater impact on customer perceptions and attitudes.
>See also: Why empathy matters
Diversity is the new norm
There’s really no reason to resist diversity. Ignorance can only hurt you. But embracing diversity shouldn’t be seen as a requirement or a necessity. Instead, it should be viewed as a powerful way of reshaping your business so that it can be more competitive and successful in both the short and long term.
About the Author: Jock Purtle works with business owners so that they can develop and implement a growth strategy. This has given him many opportunities to learn about what makes a business successful, and one core component of success is definitely a happy and diverse team.