Everyone is familiar with the concept of workplace diversity yet few are aware of the real-world benefits to business beyond reputational advantage. Let us explain all.
The term “workplace diversity” is a phrase that is perilously close to becoming one of those cheesy, corporate buzzwords along the lines of “blue sky thinking”, “industry disruptor” or the double-whammy of “leveraging synergies”.
Immediately we imagine a smug manager, half-perched on an uncomfortable colleague’s desk explaining to his team how great hiring for diversity would be for the company’s brand – more concerned about the surface image of the business than the profound benefits it entails.
Okay, maybe we’re being a bit cynical, but the point is that diversity in the workplace is more than just a photo opportunity. There are real, immediate and observable advantages to having a team that is made up of people from all walks of life. Don’t get us wrong, workplace diversity is great for your reputation too but there are many other advantages that far exceed anyPR point scoring.
Before we get to the nitty-gritty of the benefits themselves, we think it’s important that we clarify exactly what “workplace diversity”means. Here’s our definition…
What exactly is workforce diversity?
Workplace diversity refers to a company that hires people from a variety of different backgrounds, regardless of their race, religion, culture, background, education, physical ability or sexual orientation.
We are lucky enough to live in one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world so it’s only fitting that our workforces reflect this fact. It’s one of the UK’s greatest strengths so why wouldn’t we reap the same rewards of diversity within our own businesses?
Benefit #1 – Diversity of perspectives improves creativity
This one is pretty self-explanatory but many people still underestimate the power of varied opinion to come up with a great idea that no individual mind could’ve achieved on its own. It’s the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” type of thing – note we didn’t use “synergy”. Granted, this applies to any “group think” situation but having employees from various backgrounds, cultures and nationalities adds another level of perspective that you wouldn’t otherwise have if your entire workforce was homogenous.
Coupled with the diversity of perspectives is the variety of new skills and experiences that people can bring to the table. Facing challenges or coming up with fresh ideas becomes infinitely easier when you’re tackling it with a genuinely diverse array of perspectives. In fact, studies have shown that cognitively diverse teams are way better at solving problems than people who tend to think the same. It’s science, folks. Can’t argue with it.
Benefit #2 – Better understanding of customers and clients
Diversity in perspectives is typically informed by diversity in experience. Everyone has taken a unique path in life but we are all united by shared experiences. This allows us to empathise and ultimately connect with those around us. Taken in a business context, this means that the greater variety of people representing your company, the greater chance they’ll be able to understand and connect with your customers. Companies are slowly waking up to this fact too; a 2018 survey conducted by LinkedIn found that 49%of employers are actively focusing on diversity to better represent their customers. We’re thrilled to see that the word is slowly getting around.
Benefit #3 – Widens your talent pool and staff skill set
A business that actively and openly embraces diversity will attract a wider range of applicants to their vacancies. As explained above, this diverse array of people will have the manifold range of ideas and skills that only comes with variety. Language barriers can be broken down, new market scan be tapped, and client-bases can be broadened. Casting your net as wide as possible into the talent pool is the only way to ensure you hire the best people for your positions. What’s more, having a diverse workforce has also proven to improve employee retention, as people want to work for progressive companies where they will feel accepted, appreciated and, above all, equal.
How can you make your workforce more diverse?
Check out our blog post on how to remove bias from your recruitment process. Alternatively, visit our resource centre to view all of our industry research, best practices and informative guides to help your business reap the various rewards of workplace diversity.