Even though we are talking about the benefits a diverse workplace offers, employers should not only hire people from different backgrounds for the sake of making profits. The ideal situation would be one where businesses recognise the need for individuals with various viewpoints and experiences to come together, and this results in more creative thinking and problem solving resulting in higher business performance.
Understanding workplace diversity
A diverse workplace encompasses a multitude of differences, including age, gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, religion and physical abilities. By embracing these differences and creating an inclusive environment where everyone’s strengths and perspectives are embraced, businesses set themselves up for a more dynamic, adaptable and high-performing workforce.
Benefits of a diverse workplace
Workplace diversity can unlock many advantages that are beneficial for both the employees and the companies. Here are some key advantages of embracing diversity in the workplace:
- Increased creativity and innovation
- Improved decision making
- Broader market understanding
- Increased cultural competency
- Higher retention rates
- Improved recruitment efforts
- Competitive advantage
- Enhanced communication
1. Increased creativity and innovation
A diverse workforce brings together individuals with different perspectives and ways of thinking, leading to a more creative and innovative environment. By encouraging diverse ideas and perspectives, employees can develop new and exciting solutions to problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. When each employee shares a different point, something that the other employee has not thought of before, it can create a chance for them to build on it and offer their own perspective.
2. Improved decision making
Diverse teams bring a range of skills and experiences to the company, which allows for more informed decision-making. Multiple perspectives can help highlight new insights and potential intellectual blind spots, leading to better decisions in terms of strategy and operations. Diversity in the workplace ensures that all aspects of a decision’s impact have been considered and leads to more rational decisions that reflect the organisation’s overall goals and values.
3. Broader market understanding
Having a diverse workforce can help companies gain better insights into customer preferences and cultures, allowing them to better understand their target market. A diverse workforce can also build trust amongst customers and help create strong relationships between employees and clients, leading to increased brand loyalty and competitive advantage. There have been many instances where consumers choose a certain business because of the people who work there. It makes them feel more comfortable and allows for better and more pleasant communication.
4. Increased cultural competency
As employees interact with colleagues from various cultures regularly, they develop empathy and understanding for customs and behaviours that are unique to various backgrounds. This type of engagement can help break down negative stereotypes and prejudices and increase understanding and trust, building stronger relationships within the workforce. This is also beneficial when dealing with customers. As cities become more multicultural, businesses need to be aware of how not to come off as aggressive or rude to other cultures. Something that is acceptable in one country might be seen as inappropriate in another.
5. Higher retention rates
Studies show that diverse work teams have higher employee retention rates as well as client retention rates. This could be because employees feel recognised, valued and included. They do not feel out of place, they feel like they are part of the workplace. By prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, companies can improve engagement levels, which will ultimately lead to greater employee loyalty and more sustainable growth over time.
6. Improved recruitment efforts
Companies that have a diverse workforce are more likely to attract talent from diverse backgrounds. By publicising company-wide DEI initiatives, including newsletters, social media and around physical stores, companies can send a clear message about their commitment to diversity and attract candidates who also prioritise DEI in their personal and professional endeavours. This is especially important with Millennials and Gen-Z as a recent survey from Deloitte showed that they are likely to turn down a job if the organisation is not seen as diverse or inclusive.
7. Competitive advantage
Diverse companies are generally more innovative and can better understand and attract a broader customer base. Customers are also changing. Consumers now are more willing to pay more for a company that is ethical and values diversity. As Gen-Z and Millennials are taking a larger part of the market, they expect businesses to be sincere and promote diversity in a genuine way. Companies that manage to highlight diversity as part of their beliefs and not a profit-motivated campaign are more likely to win customers over their competitors.
8. Enhanced communication
Diverse teams tend to communicate more effectively, as they learn to navigate and appreciate different communication styles. In turn, better communication leads to better collaboration and reduced misunderstandings, which can improve overall productivity. Employees learn to be more patient and ask for clarification when they are confused instead of making assumptions.
Building a diverse team
So we established that diversity is important. But how can businesses build a diverse workplace? Here are some steps you can take:
1. Develop an inclusive recruitment and hiring strategy
One of the best ways to build a diverse workplace is to ensure that the hiring process is inclusive. Companies should create targeted job postings that are distributed through multiple channels to attract a diverse pool of applicants. In addition, interview panels should include more than one member so they are fairer. Organisations should also be careful to avoid unconscious bias in the selection process, using structured interviews and being mindful of language that may exclude certain groups. Businesses should ensure, however, that the final decision is made based on someone’s skills rather than considering only their background. If it fails to do that, it can lead to discrimination and legal issues.
2. Provide diversity training
Companies should offer diversity training to employees to help them understand the importance of diversity, recognise differences among employees and build a culture of respect and inclusivity. These training sessions can be delivered in various formats, including online modules, workshops and seminars. Moreover, diversity training can be mandatory for all employees and should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it remains relevant. Failure to provide proper training can increase misconduct and create a hostile work environment.
3. Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion
Building a diverse workforce is meaningless unless the company also fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion. Employees should know that they are valued regardless of their gender, race, age, or any other characteristic. Company policies should reflect this belief and the organisation should take a strong stance against any form of discrimination or bigotry. Sadly so far many businesses have failed to do that. Between 2019 and 2020 over half of the complaints received by the Australian Human Rights Commission were about some kind of discrimination, including sex, disability and age.
4, Create opportunities for professional development
Companies should create opportunities for underrepresented groups to advance in their careers. This could look like mentor-ship programs, career development workshops or leadership training initiatives that target individuals from diverse backgrounds.
5. Encourage Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups (ERGs) provide a platform for individuals with shared characteristics or identities to come together. These groups can include women’s groups, LGBTQ+ groups and disability groups, among others. ERGs offer a safe space for employees to share their experiences and create a sense of belonging. They can help companies to understand the unique needs of some employees, which can improve the overall work experience.
6. Set measurable goals
Establish clear diversity and inclusion objectives, and track your progress over time. Ensure these goals are well-communicated across the organisation. It is not enough to say that your workplace is diverse and inclusive. Understand if that is the case. Looking at complaint history and asking employees about their own experiences can help employers understand if they are on the right track.
Diversity can help businesses in various ways but only if it is done due to genuine beliefs. Chasing diversity for revenue-gaining reasons can be seen as a negative thing by customers as the company is less likely to carry it out properly. Workplaces need different individuals to be more successful and make employees comfortable and valued. Organisations need to invest in their workforce to protect employee well-being and reduce discrimination, harassment and other misconduct.
To help our clients create a more inclusive and diverse workplace, Polonious handles their employee complaints to ensure that improvements are made quickly and efficiently. When employees raise an issue, our users record all relevant information in Polonious to benefit from automated updates and reminders about follow-up conversations. This helps our clients work on the issues raised by their staff and create an environment where everyone feels welcomed and listened to. Do you want to see how Polonious can help you handle employee cases? Request a demo and we will be happy to show you!
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