While our interconnected world seems to grow smaller, the notion of diversity is expanding. Companies progressively seek to create workforces that are not just varied by gender or race. Truly diverse teams are also inclusive of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, life experiences, sexual orientation, and identification.
Here’s why continuing with an intentional pursuit of diversity is essential today:
Increasingly Valued by Employees
The happiest employees are the ones who feel safe to be their authentic selves at work. At companies that take a deliberate approach to workplace diversity and inclusion, workers aren’t anxious about missing a day for religious observance or a doctor’s appointment to address an illness or ability limitation. Their focus does not need to be distracted with concerns about fitting in.
Additionally, diversity is simply the reality for the youngest workers entering the workforce. It will be increasingly expected of employers as it is intrinsically valued because Diversity is them. According to a Pew Research study, Generation Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort yet.
Enhances Employer Brand
A robust and active diversity and inclusion effort shows job seekers that the company makes fair employment practices and a balanced workforce a priority. It offers a reason to believe that the employer seeks to empower marginalized and under-represented members of society through employment. Further, it illustrates the company’s commitment to creating and sustaining a welcoming workplace culture of belonging, respect, and equality, and one that values diversity of thought and innovation.
Improves Creativity, Problem Solving & Conflict Resolution
More perspectives and more experiences expand the pool of ideas and approaches. Mixing up teams gets people out of their comfort zones and set ways of thinking, inspiring fresh ways to tackle problems. An added benefit of spending time with co-workers that come from alternative backgrounds is the fostering of the appreciation of differences while discovering connections and similarities. This, in turn, encourages mutual respect and collaboration and instills a sense of partnership to avoid conflicts or to resolve them quickly. Diversified teams naturally cross-pollinate skills, talents, and approaches, and may inspire mentorship and reverse mentorship opportunities across backgrounds, abilities, and generations.
A study by Deloitte found that “when employees think their organization is committed to and supportive of diversity and they feel included, employees report better business performance in terms of ability to innovate, responsiveness to changing customer needs, and team collaboration.
Reflects Global Reality
Business is increasingly global, and the face of the customer is changing along with the face of the employee. More diverse and inclusive teams can provide a better understanding of the customer journey. Imagine designing a brand experience for someone in a particular cultural group or a new market without input from someone in the culture – or a product without the input of someone who has physical limitations. Customers will also feel their worth reinforced in seeing their reflection when they interact with company employees to whom they can relate. Ultimately customers benefit from the synergy and productivity of harmonious, diverse teams who problem-solve together on their behalf.
It’s a Verb Not a Noun
Like anything that enhances the authenticity of your employment brand promises, workplace diversity needs to be expressed in actions, not just words. This includes vigorous outreach and recruiting efforts, and internal enforcement of a company’s clearly communicated anti-harassment and discrimination policies. To step up their efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, companies can partner with an experienced recruiting firm that can quickly and cost-efficiently access a global candidate network to meet specific initiative goals.
An active and enthusiastic commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a feel-good, do-good idea, but a mission-critical imperative.