Diversity has been a hot topic for 2020. At times this year, it’s been difficult to escape stories of antisemitism and white supremacy. But what can we do on a local scale to encourage diversity and why is diversity important in the workplace anyway?
Is improving diversity just a box-ticking exercise for employers, or can it have any impact on their bottom line? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions and more.
What is Diversity in the Workplace?
It is impossible to answer the question ‘why is diversity important in the workplace’ without first understanding what it is. A company with a genuinely diverse workforce employs a diverse variety of people regardless of:
- Ethnic backgrounds
- Sexual orientation
- Levels of education
- Physical ability
- Social and economic background
Why is Diversity Important in the Workplace?
Companies often think of diversity in terms of being a tick-box exercise necessary to comply with anti-discrimination laws. However, there are also many benefits to actively encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here are a few examples:
- Variety of different perspectives
- Increases creativity
- Encourages innovative thinking
- Diverse teams solve problems faster
- Improves decision making
- Increases profits
- Encourages employee engagement
- Improves employee retention
- Makes your brand more relatable to a broader audience
- Better understanding of customers needs
- Boosts your employer brand
- Attracts top talent
- Improves brand reputation
- Harmonious work environment
How to Promote Equality and Diversity in the Workplace
It’s all very well knowing that improving diversity brings many benefits to your organisation. Knowing where to start making changes is quite a challenge. Below are some actionable steps you can take to get your business moving towards a more diverse company culture.
Stop Viewing Diversity as a Box Ticking Exercise
Setting targets to improve diversity within your business won’t do anything on its own to improve your bottom line. Instead, consider why your company wants to reach that target.
A recent report by McKinsey found that businesses employing a higher percentage of female managers generate higher profits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that women are better business leaders than men. It’s more likely that a broader range of skills and opinions among managers facilitates more effective decision making.
Focusing on goals your company hopes to achieve by encouraging diversity is likely to deliver better results than concentrating on targets.
Review Your Recruitment Process
We all prefer to operate within our comfort zone, which is why we tend to gravitate towards likeminded people. Whether we are conscious of it or not, this makes us guilty of hiring in the mirror. How many of us hire those who are most likely to fit in with the existing team?
If your business doesn’t currently use a competency-based interview approach, consider how it encourages cognitive diversity. Competency questions facilitate fairer consideration, regardless of gender, age or background.
Try also, mixing up interview panels so that they include a variety of different backgrounds, age ranges and skill levels. A diverse interview panel can make potential employees feel more relaxed during interviews and therefore, more likely to open up.
Educate Existing Management Team
If you want to see change within your business, it has to start at the top. Start by helping existing managers to understand the importance of workplace diversity. Provide management training that encourages them to support employees from different backgrounds. Ensure they have access to resources that enable them to promote and celebrate diversity within their teams.
Actively encouraging cross-pollination between departments allows employees to work together creatively to achieve common goals. While doing so, they share knowledge and acquire a wider range of skills and experience.
Allowing employees to gain experience in different areas benefits existing teams by encouraging innovative and creative thinking. It also benefits individuals by enabling them to explore their ambitions within your business. This, in turn, helps the business because they will be less likely to look outside your organisation for personal development.
Celebrate Cultural Diversity
Most companies in the UK celebrate Christmas even though only 22% of us do so for religious reasons. But how many companies make an effort to celebrate Eid, Divali, Hannukah or Chinese New Year?
A social events calendar that celebrates cultural diversity regardless of religion goes a long way to encourage inclusion in the workplace. It can also improve your companies reputation within global markets.
A Few Final Thoughts on Why is Diversity Important in the Workplace
Many companies are looking to make improvements to the way they do business in 2021. Considering why is diversity important in the workplace is an excellent place to start. The benefits of promoting diversity are so far-reaching that they by far outweigh any challenges that implementation might bring.
Thinking about how your business can improve diversity by adapting its recruitment process? That’s just one of the ways we can help. To find out what else we can do for your business, check out our client services page.