Diversity in the workplace is taking the HR world by storm. Employers are prioritizing more than everDiversity, equity and inclusion(DEI) and invest resources to ensure their teams are positioned for success. Focusing on DEI is not only smart for your business, but right as a person and right for humanity.
In this post, we discuss the tangible and intangible benefits of diversity in the workplace, the challenges it brings, and what you can do to initiate initiatives today.
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What do we mean by diversity in the workplace?
Workplace diversity refers to an organization that intentionally employs a workforce comprised of individuals with a variety of characteristics, such as gender, religion, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and other characteristics.
Diversity in the workplace leads to a wealth of benefits – both from an internal and external perspective. This does not mean, however, that implementing diversity initiatives in the workplace is not without its unique challenges. We'll examine both sides of the equation in the sections that follow.
The benefits of diversity in the workplace
1. New Perspectives
When you hire people from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and cultures, you bring a range of new perspectives to the table. This can lead to benefits such as better troubleshooting and increased productivity. Think of it like a treasure hunt: will you be more successful if you send everyone on the team in the same direction? Or will you gather information more quickly by having a strategically divided team?
The idea of bringing new perspectives to the company can be intimidating for some hiring managers. People may fear potential embarrassment or thatIntroduction of unpopular opinions🇧🇷 But do not worry:to look forshowed that mixed teams achieve a 60% improvement in decision-making ability.
2. Largest talent bank
Employees are no longer just lookinga 9 to 5 jobpays well. They are looking for a space where they can grow, feel accepted and challenged. Because of this, a company that embraces diversity will attract a wider range of candidates looking for a progressive workplace. Besides theThe Millennial and Gen Z generations are the most diverse in history- Only 56% of the country's 87 million millennials are white, compared to 72% of the country's 76 million baby boomers. Likewise a 2020Glassdoor studyfound that 76% of workers and jobseekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job openings. As a result, diversified companies are more likely to attract top talent.
On the other hand, a company that also operatessearchThe diversity of candidates will have access to a broader talent pool. While you should always be selective about who you hire, being overly selective about qualities that don't matter will greatly reduce the number of people you can consider. For this reason, embracing diversity in terms of background, mindset, ethnicity, and other factors is critical to finding good employees.
3. More innovation
Diversity in the workplace leads to innovation. If you think about it, the correlation makes sense. If you have a homogeneous group of people, chances are everything is similar too - from their thinking patterns to life experiences and problem-solving skills. And equality does not lead to creative solutions. Conversely, a diverse group of employees will bring unique perspectives that can lead to breakthroughs in thinking.
It's the same reason why companies go abroad for important strategic meetings, or why a change of pace can help you solve the problem you've been stuck on for days. New circumstances and environments are known to stimulate new ideas. A recent study found this to be the caseCompanies with good performance in diversity indicatorstend to be demonstrably more innovative.
4. Improved employee performance
Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand. When you create a work environment where employees see a variety of cultures, backgrounds and mindsets, they feel more comfortable being themselves. This, in turn, leads to happier and more productive employees.
On the other hand, research found thatA strong, homogeneous culture can stifle natural cognitive diversitybecause of the pressure to adapt. When employees feel like they can't be themselves at work, they're more likely to fear rejection and not doing their best work.
5. Increased Profits
There are many studies showing that mixed teams simply perform better and therefore bring in more profits. ONEMessage from McKinsey 2015of 366 publicly traded companies found that those in the top quartile for racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to earn financial returns above the industry average. Additionally, those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry average.Another McKinsey studyfound that publicly traded US companies with diverse boards have a 95% higher return on equity than those with homogeneous boards. One more study ofBoston Consulting Groupfound that increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to better financial performance. Diversity pays off.
The challenges of diversity in the workplace
1. Align diversity practices with unique business objectives
Embracing diversity in the workplace is a big commitment, and there is no manual that you can just “borrow” from another organization. Every company has unique goals and their diversity practices must align to be successful. That means taking into account your specific culture and figuring out where you want to go.
Don't feel pressured to just copy and paste the initiatives organizations around you are taking. For example, if you already have a racially diverse workforce, does it make sense to dedicate an entire goal to improving those numbers just because other companies are focusing on it? Maybe you should focus on that.intersectionalitynext, so that your existing strengths can drive other aspects of diversity?
Solution:consider making aDiversity-focused researchto identify your organization's specific gaps so you know where to focus your resources. Otherwise, you could make the wrong assumptions and waste your time on initiatives that ultimately don't have a significant impact.
2. Transition from project to implementation
You can create the most careful and detailed diversity program. But if you don't have anyone to do it, it's no use. That's why you need to have the team, support, and resources to take your diversity initiatives from design to implementation. Ensure leadership buy-in so you're supported going forward, and ensure your team is on board and ready to act.
solution: Have a dedicated resource such as aHead of Diversity and Inclusion, is a solid way to hold the company accountable for results. The latest statistics fromIndeedshow that diversity and inclusion jobs have increased by 35% over the past two years. You can also consider a creative solution, for examplea rotation programif this fits the structure of your organization.
3. Training management
Diversity doesn't happen in silos - it requires everyone in the organization to work together to be successful. Particularly,Managerhave a major impact on how these initiatives are carried out. Therefore, it is important to invest in training managers so that they understand what the company's diversity goals are, why they are important and what is expected of them when interacting with employees. It only takes one person to committhe microaggressionor engaging in insensitive or non-inclusive behavior to detract from the company's culture and an employee's experience.
Solution:There are many companies that can help you navigate diversity training. For example,Forshawuses a combination of data, relationship building and a network of diversity and inclusion professionals to tailor solutions for your business. This can be a great resource if you feel like you need more support!
4. Overcome Prejudice
people are biased. That oneResearch by psychologist Daniel Kahnemanshowed that the vast majority of human decisions are based on prejudice, belief and intuition - not on facts or logic.
Because of this, even with the best of intentions, people tend to bring prejudice into their everyday interactions, including in the workplace.
Solution:Organizations need to invest in additional training specifically dedicated to overcoming bias. While it's inevitable that some prejudice will creep into the workplace, at least it makes a big difference.Be aware of common misconceptionsand have a basic understanding of how to avoid or approach them.
5. Internal resistance
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the idea of diversity in the workplace. Some people are simply uncomfortable with the unknown and end up adjusting. But others may actively oppose the idea of intentionally building diversity in the workplace. Regardless of the reason for the internal resistance, it is important that you, as the leader of your company, strive to constantly educate your employees about this.whybehind their diversity efforts.
Solution:While there is no proven solution to internal resistance, it is important to remember that effective D&I is about getting people to understand. That means focusing on the people whoNotunderstand why it matters - not just those who do. If you make it clear what your culture stands for, some employees may recognize that this is the case.it's not the right place for them and they decide to leave.This does not mean that they are excluded, but that people recognize when they do not share the same beliefs as the rest of the organization.
How to get started with diversity in the workplace
Now that you understand the benefits and challenges that come with diversity in the workplace, how do you get started? Fortunately, there are a growing number of resources to help get you started in the right direction. At Culture Amp, we've developed a few that can serve as a useful starting point. Check out some of our diversity-focused content below:
If you want to see how other companies are approaching diversity:
- Understand Culture Amp employee demographics for 2021
- 3 ways to customize your organization's onboarding program
- How AppNexus is creating a more diverse and inclusive culture
If you want to learn how to measure diversity:
- What demographic questions should you ask in surveys?
- 5 diversity and inclusion questions to use in your business
- Diversity and Inclusion Research: Building a More Inclusive Future
- Diversity, Inclusion and Intersectionality Report 2019
- 3 reasons why traditional diversity metrics don't work
If you want to learn from diversity experts:
- How injustice appears in virtual work environments
- 5 ways to fight diversity fatigue
- 10 Diversity and Inclusion stats that will transform the way you do business
If you are interested in learning how to meaningfully support workers from historically marginalized communities:
- The importance of understanding microaggressions at work
- Beyond the Rainbow Wash: Supporting LGBTQ* Work and Beyond
- How to support black women during COVID-19
- A black employee's response to "How can I help?"
- Intersectionality at Work: Why It's Not Enough to Focus on Women
- Why it's important to share gender pronouns at work