By: Lauren Dellarocco
Diversity in the workplace means a number of things. It means encouraging people of different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles to collaborate in a supportive, respectful environment. Workplace diversity means people of all genders, races, cultures, interests, lifestyles, political ideologies, life experiences (and similarly individualizing characteristics) are accepted and unified in the workforce to reach a common goal. A diverse workplace means respect for everyone is present, in both the employer realm, as well as the employee realm. To promote a diverse workplace is to promote variety among the individuals in a working team. Each employee and employer is integral to a business, and the different perspectives that come from having a diverse team are the very factors that propel a company’s success.
Workplace diversity yields enhanced decision making processes and outcomes.
The decision making process and its overall outcome improves drastically when a diverse workforce is promoted. It’s no secret that a team of employees will make relatively better problem-solving decisions than a single employee will. Each employee on a team offers a different background of experiences, which elicits a different set of skills, understandings and overall knowledge-base than every other employee. Each employee sees the world and company matters through their own unique lens. Various perspectives and experiences are incredibly valuable when diverse companies are seeking the most effective and efficient processes for generating an optimal ROI, or similar key metrics, to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
Imagine your team is discussing a possible solution for a recent downfall in consumer engagement. New ideas and suggestions are discussed, and you realize you’ve experienced this almost-exact situation and circumstance in the past. You offer your personal experience, sharing the challenges and hardships you faced in a prior situation similar to this one. Your team takes your experience into full consideration, and decides to refine its strategy to avoid facing the adversities you previously faced. Had you not offered your experiences, your team might have run into the same challenges you experienced, using time that could’ve been spent creating a polished, effective process to solidify a competitive advantage.
When various perspectives join to meet a common goal, this diversified meeting-of-the-minds allows the opportunity for unprecedented, fresh ideas to rise to the surface. When there is a lack of diversity, or certain employees are discouraged and stigmatized based on their diversities—which are ultimately their strengths—these employees’ ideas are not given the consideration they deserve. Suppressing one’s ideas in the workplace inevitably creates anxieties and fears that hinder one’s workplace performance. A person who feels his or her ideas are not valued is likely to succumb to these anxieties and refrain from sharing further thoughts with the team. These fears significantly subdue an individual’s ability to think creatively, logically and confidently—and the ability to really think at all.
- According to a study by the ADAA:
- 56% of employees say stress and anxiety impacts their workplace performance
- 50% of employees say stress and anxiety impacts their quality of work
- A contrasting study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity determined that high-performing businesses and organizations accentuate employee collaboration around 3 to 5.5 times more than other low-performing organizations.
Workplace inclusion promotes happier employees and employers, and a healthier organizational culture, which leads to company gains.
The advantage of diversity in the workplace spans further than quantifiable productivity and success. Diversity at work directly affects individual employee’s satisfaction, happiness levels and organizational culture. (What is ‘organizational culture‘, you ask? Check it out!) When employees are supported by the team, managers, bosses, and owners, they feel respected by their peers, as well as the key decision makers of a company or organization. In situations where employees’ thoughts, diverse backgrounds, and ideas are encouraged without discrimination of their gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or race, they have more to contribute to the work environment.
Workplace inclusion comes down to basic human psychology. An inclusive environment that celebrates and facilitates employee collaboration creates equal opportunity for employees who want to share their input and experiences with the team. A company that places an emphasis on workforce diversity yields employees that are encouraged to take on more responsibility. Employees that are encouraged are not only motivated by their team and employers, but motivated by themselves too. The importance of diversity in the workplace is seen internally, within employees’ motivation, as well as externally, within the welfare of a business or organization.
When employee work performance is assessed purely by skill, ability, merit, production and contribution to the workplace, rather than by assumptions based on personal characteristics, the collective company goal and the path it takes to achieve that goal becomes clearer. Employees who possess the appropriate experience are pulled onto projects that align with their knowledge base. They’re not placed in a figurative box (based on employers’ assumptions of their abilities) that limits their potential.
According to a study by Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, approximately 96% of executives believe that diversity in the workforce increases employee engagement and overall company achievement.
Diversity at work allows a company to delve into the perspective of its customers or consumers. It’s likely that your target audience, no matter your area of business, is a diverse group of people. Your market audience is likely comprised of a variety of men, women, 20-year-olds, 52-year-olds, people with physical disabilities, retirees, teachers and countless other diverse lifestyles. If you want to increase your customer/consumer base and improve your strategies, it’s important that you understand how to appeal to everyone and how to meet their differing needs. With a team of diverse employees, your company has an authentic understanding of its consumers’ pain points, goals, preferences, challenges and experiences that translates into their demand for your product or service.
Diversity in the workplace allows your company to refine its approach to reflect the culture of your company’s target audience.
How can you promote workplace diversity?
You can promote workplace diversity through a number of diversity training techniques. Using a talent management software, employers, owners and managers can cultivate healthy, clear communication tactics throughout every process, including onboarding, performance management, and career development. Proper communication meshed with diversity programs and an understanding of a company’s objective increases employee engagement, accountability and commitment.
Similarly, implementing the right employee communication software through human resource management can provide a bottom-line roadmap for employees to remain engaged and accountable in a diverse workforce. A streamlined communication software helps to promote workplace inclusion, by building communication journeys based on employee demographics, tenure and roles.
Understanding the importance of diversity in the workplace is the first step toward facilitating positive workplace diversity amongst your team.
Respecting all team members’ lifestyles, especially their differences, is vital for considering all approaches to achieve a common business goal or perspective. Treating each team member as a unique person with a diverse background and diverse talents allows you, as an employer or peer, to emphasize workplace inclusion and cultivate healthy, efficient employee collaboration.
The importance of workplace diversity should not be undermined. Work with your human resources team to adopt diversity practices and establish an inclusive workplace. Create clear goals, steps and processes, and communicate these to each team member without discriminating or assuming each individual’s potential based on their cultural diversity, gender, sexual orientation, religious or racial differences. After all, these differences help drive a company’s success. The benefits of diversity in the workplace strengthen the bottom line: Workplace diversity has a direct effect on not only the satisfaction and happiness of employees, but also the company’s ability to prosper and understand its consumer or customer from an authentic perspective.