Diversity has become the hot topic of discussion in several workplaces. What it looks like, however, differs based on context. Ensuring that there is racial, gender, disability, and age diversity in the workplace is often a business’ greatest challenge. Labor laws make diversity in the workplace mandatory. However, this doesn’t completely eliminate the presence of discrimination due to personal bias.
Business leaders must do more than appreciate the value of diversity in the workplace. They must put systems in place to ensure that this diversity creates a harmonious work environment where all employees have equal opportunities to succeed. It is meaningless if these systems are non-existent.
You may argue that such a workplace is non-existent. After all, we don’t live in a utopian society. Fortune Magazine has, however, compiled a list of the 100 best places for diversity in 2017. Workplace diversity is possible and meaningful if used correctly. Here’re 4 ways it can benefit your business.
Increased appreciation for cultural differences
We live in a global marketplace. Gone are the days when business affairs were restricted to physical locations. Clients now come from all over the world. Therefore, having a diverse workforce helps all staff understand cultural differences so that they can meet the needs of international clients.
Having someone with first-hand experience of another culture on staff also helps when cultural barriers seem impenetrable. This person can be assigned to handle that client’s issues so that a seamless client experience is created.
A greater level of creativity
A diverse workplace is filled with people who’ve had a range of experiences. It is through these experiences that employees can share valuable insight that benefits the business. As the Deloitte Review postulates, “diversity of thinking is the new frontier.”
The Harvard Business Review argues, however, that while diversity does encourage more ideas, it doesn’t increase the effective implementation of these ideas. This raises an important point. Team leaders must carefully consider the people they choose to be a part of the project management cycle. The cycle has 4 phases: initiation, planning, execution and closure. Different teams may need to be chosen for each stage so that the desired result is produced.
Deep-level diversity is paramount
The Harvard Business Review also mentions that the most influential form of diversity is psychological. Ultimately, people need to be the right fit for their positions and their teams. Their race, gender, sexual orientation, and age don’t matter. Someone with the wrong personality, skills and values will never be the right fit even if he or she is as diverse as the fish in the sea.
Creates an inclusive culture
Your business must have an inclusive culture to support diversity. The Deloitte Review defines inclusion as having 4 components:
- Fairness and respect
- A sense of value and belonging
- A safe and open environment
- An empowered and growing workforce
All employees should feel empowered and confident. A satisfied employee creates good business outcomes.
Workplace diversity is a work-in-progress for many organizations. It’s more than hiring people to fill a quota. Instead, it’s about creating an inclusive work environment where each employee is valued despite the differences. Think carefully about the inclusion practices of your organization. Do they meet the needs of all employees in your diverse workforce?
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