Diversity in the workplace has become a white-hot topic in the past year but it is so much more than a social trend or a box to tick.
Diverse workplaces, beyond being more inclusive and more comfortable environments in which to spend time, are also more productive and more profitable.
By making your business more welcoming to a broad range of people you not only do the right thing, but you improve your chances of long term success.
A diverse workplace is one where people of varying ages, genders, races, sexual orientations, cultures and abilities work together. It is a workplace that reflects the community in which it operates. It can also be aspirational: we mirror our community as closely as we can because we want to serve our community as best we can.
The advantages are many, but at the most basic level,
"if your workforce looks like the wider world, more people will feel welcome and will seek you out."
That gives you access to a wider workforce and a larger customer base.
Bringing together people of varying backgrounds and interests means you have a much bigger pool of knowledge to draw from, and will almost certainly come up with more creative solutions to problems, and at greater speed.
The more diverse your workforce, the more perspectives you can access. Workshopping ideas becomes a far more valuable and meaningful exercise, for example.
If you are a sole operator or employ just one or two others, you can still have an inclusive outlook, by making the effort to interact with a wide range of people and seek their perspectives. Being mindful of what you lack in terms of life experience is important. Don’t assume that you know what people with different backgrounds to your own want and need. Ask them
Workplaces where diversity is sought out and celebrated tend to perform better financially.
McKinsey and Company tested this theory by comparing diversity on the executive boards of 180 European, British and American companies against their financial performance.
The management consultancy found that the companies that ranked in the top quartile of board diversity achieved return on equity (ROE) 53 percent higher than the companies that ranked in the lowest quartile.
“While we can’t quantify the exact relationship between diversity and performance in such cases, we offer them as part of a growing body of best practices,” McKinsey and Company reported. “These successful companies are simultaneously pursuing top-team diversity, ambitious global strategies, and strong financial performance.”
"It’s not surprising that teams that are inclusive and reflect the diversity of the communities in which they operate are happier teams."
Not only do people feel more comfortable and supported, there is lower employee turnover and higher engagement, which tends to be a marker of employee welfare and productivity.
This is great for a number of reasons. Employees who feel valued and understood contribute more to their workplaces in terms of energy, ideas, commitment and effort. They get more done, of better quality, and faster. Win-win-win.
Employees in diverse workplaces also tend to stay with an organisation longer, which means less money and time is spent on recruitment, and there is less turbulence in the workplace. This is good for the wellbeing of the whole team and also better for the bottom line.