Workplace Diversity – Top 5 BenefitsDon’t feel like reading? Listen here! We know and have learned about workplace diversity and inclusion lately. Especially over the last few years here in the United States. Investing your energies in a diverse workplace should no longer be considered a rare experience or a privilege. The culture as a whole isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be regarding these issues. But there has been some progress made in the business world. Fortunately, more companies have begun to pay more attention to making sure they don’t just communicate a message of inclusion. But also operate as diverse workplaces that actually value individuals for their unique perspectives and strengths. This isn’t just a move that helps employees, however. When companies become increasingly diverse, everyone wins. We discuss the benefits of workplace diversity below.
Benefits of a Diverse WorkforceThe benefits of a diverse workforce come from the combined strengths of diverse people. A workforce that is truly diverse will include people who are from diverse backgrounds. Those would include (but not be limited to) the following:
- Ethnic and racial makeups
- Sexual orientations
- Gender expressions
- All levels of neurodiversity
5 Key Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion at WorkWhile learning to embrace differences within teams of diverse workers has been a challenge for corporate America, companies that managed to do so have witnessed some key diverse workforce benefits as a reward for their efforts. The list could become quite long if we were to list them all. So here are a few of the most common ones.
1. Workplace Diversity Increases Employee Engagement and RetentionIn assessing the nature of the relationship between an employer and its employees, analysts investigate issues such as whether workers feel:
- Excited about their work
- Invested in the success of the company
“Companies know that they can be better and part of that is embedded in how employees feel about their work team and overall organization. And if you haven’t made the connection yet, feeling included is a very important part of the equation. Especially for your diverse employees as noted above. The example provided above used race as a factor. But feel free to insert other dimensions like gender, age, and sexual orientation. Inclusion matters.” (Kaleidoscope Group on workplace inclusion)Employees who feel included will feel more engaged. And a team full of members who stay engaged long-term gives the company a competitive advantage. Companies that leverage the diverse workforce to college teams of diverse employees consistently see greater annual returns than those who do not. According to workplace research conducted by McKinsey & Company:
- Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
2. Workplace Diversity Sparks More Innovative WorkA diverse work environment leads to more innovative work. In fact, it’s been proven that the more a team is cognitively diverse, the faster they will be able to problem-solve. Within a diverse team, differences in perspectives, information processing styles, and more can actually lead to a team that yields greater returns than the sum of its parts. In short, higher cognitive diversity correlates with better performance. That’s a definite benefit of workplace diversity.
3. Workplace Diversity is Linked with Higher Customer SatisfactionKeeping customers satisfied is a huge undertaking. Sometimes it feels hard to discern what our customers want and how we can better answer their questions. Help them reach their goals, and meet their needs. One of the secrets of improved customer satisfaction actually lies in maintaining a more diverse team. After all, customer satisfaction is less about mind-reading and more about using what you know and understand about the customer to intuit what will make them happy. It follows that the more diverse your team is, the better chance you have of forging meaningful connections with a broader range of customers. All things being equal, a diverse team has a better shot at a monolithic one in the following areas:
- Keeping customers satisfied
- Boosting the company’s reputation
- Improving the bottom line
- Growing a small business
- Leveraging a competitive advantage
4. Workplace Diversity Builds Cultural CompetenceThanks to the connective power of the internet, nearly every company can operate on a global scale. While this is definitely a benefit, there are significant dangers in pursuing global opportunities. Small businesses with tiny marketing budgets can easily interact with different cultures from around the world; and even here in North America, there are groups with different cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and neurodiversity. With most of us just one leaked text or one bad Tweet away from sinking our brand through an act of cultural incompetence, it’s more important than ever to foster a diverse workforce filled with people who do not look like, think like, or act like us. When we work with people who are comfortable navigating spaces and vocabularies with which we might be less familiar, we can rest easy, knowing they’re well suited to take the lead in communicating with a diverse audience.
5. Workplace Diversity Increases ProductivityAt this point, it should come as no surprise to learn that there’s a strong link between diversity and workforce productivity. Economists at MIT have studied the ways in which diverse offices function more effectively. Not only do employees seem more motivated in a diverse environment, but it also has been linked to an increase in revenue.
“The more homogeneous offices have higher levels of social capital,” Ellison observes. “But the interesting twist is that … higher levels of social capital are not important enough to cause those offices to perform better. The employees might be happier, they might be more comfortable, and these might be cooperative places, but they seem to perform less well.”It’s true that building a diverse workforce can come with some initial hurdles. People need time to learn to get to know one another, work together, and understand each other. At times, there will be instances of friction that would not have come about in a more homogenous space. But friction is not always bad. Though friction can start a fire if it rages out of control, if it’s used within reason, friction can also produce some healthy benefits, such as keeping our hands warm when we rub them together. When a diverse team is able to function well together as a group, they’re in a better position to make good decisions quickly, solve problems more effectively, and boost both the company’s reputation and its bottom line.