A Case For Diversity
Employers are dealing with the most diverse workforces in history. For the first time ever, workforces are spanning five generations, with people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds with different gender and sexual identities. There are also different attitudes and expectations from employees who may live a variety of different lifestyles, as well as operate on and employ a variety of cognitive styles in the workplace.
Although such diversity can present challenges in day-to-day operations, there are undeniable benefits to having a multicultural and inclusive workforce. In a 2014 study Forbes identified diversity as a key driver for innovation. Furthermore, Entrepreneur considers diverse teams to have greater creativity, while Lu Hong and Scott Page’s research identified that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
The diversity of an organisation is increasingly a consideration for job seekers. According to Glassdoor “when it comes to the recruiting process, minority groups value diversity even more than the average job seeker” – subsequently having a diverse workforce makes the recruitment process easier.
The same Glassdoor study also found a correlation between staff turnover and diversity, with 57% of respondents believing their employer should be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce. If this isn’t justification enough, research from McKinsey identified that companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.
Fostering An Inclusive Work Environment
Human Resources must provide an infrastructure that allows diversity and inclusion to thrive as a part of the culture. It is not merely about filling quota but about creating a culture where people from all walks of life work harmoniously and thrive at work and life. There’s several practices managers can implement to embrace diversity in the workplace:
• Learn about the cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees outside of the workplace. Building relationships through increased understanding and trust helps to foster inclusion.
• Include opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that employees feel more comfortable. Be creative, flexible and look for new ways of doing things that will appeal to a broad audience.
• Ensure employees have the opportunity to take part (or are sufficiently represented) in decision-making and planning of social activities.
• Be aware of (and provide time off for) culturally significant events and holy days.
• Offer a flexible float day for employees to use at their own discretion to observe events or days relevant to them.
• Create an intranet-based multicultural calendar to avoid scheduling important meetings on major cultural holidays.
There are hundreds of research papers highlighting the benefits of diversity at work and the most successful companies are those embracing the modern (changing) workforce. Take inspiration from success stories, define your end goals and develop a suitable strategy to foster an inclusive environment in your organisation.
Author: Sara Glynn – Wrkit Marketing Executive