As the world continues to grow, so do the differences among us. For every one thing two people find out they have in common, there will be at least five things about which they do not agree. But this is part of the beauty of human interaction. We’ve all got our own stories, our own experiences and our own personalities, and we’re all more than happy to share.
Improving diversity in the workplace is an important goal for any company. It’s not only fair and right but also can provide tremendous benefits to your workforce, which is something we don’t always think about. So before looking too much into how you can improve diversity in the workplace, consider these reasons why it will help make your business better.
Before we go too far into our discussion on the benefits of diversity, though, it’s important to take a moment to define exactly what this word means. This is because when it comes to diversity, we tend to focus in on just racial diversity. And while it’s important, of course, to do our best to make sure everyone is equal, the concept of diversity is a bit more nuanced.
For example, while we can talk about diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, we can also talk about it in terms of age, religion, sexuality, nationality, gender, physical capabilities, language, experience, home town, college, etc. Ultimately, when we talk about diversity, what we’re really talking about is difference. People are different, and it’s your job to fill your company with people who are different.
This has benefits to your business, as will be discussed in a moment, but it also just makes sense on a human level. Who would want to spend so much time working with people who are just like us? No one. Because it’s boring. And now that we’re on the same page about what diversity can mean, let’s talk about what it can do for your business.
New Ideas and Solutions
We live in an “innovate or die” kind of world. There is always someone breathing down your neck, and if you’re not constantly pushing the limit, you may find you’ve been passed right by.
As such, it’s important to be constantly innovating, and promoting workplace diversity is one way to do this. Hiring employees with different backgrounds, beliefs, values, opinions, lived experiences, etc., will inject a whole lot of new perspective into your business, and this will make it easier for you to come up with solutions that are truly unique.
Furthermore, a diverse workforce will help you avoid groupthink, the psychological phenomenon where people are afraid to go against the group for fear of repercussions. Groupthink kills innovation and discourages people from thinking critically about the business, something that will surely hold you back.
Of course, building a diverse workforce won’t automatically make you innovative. You still need to recruit people who are good critical thinkers and who are willing to shake things up. But working to improve diversity will help bring in new perspectives, and this can create a culture where people are looking for new ways of doing things and doing them better.
More Dynamic Workplace
We talk a lot these days about “employee engagement.” Engaged employees, those who feel connected to their work and inspired because of it, tend to be more productive and innovative. And by promoting diversity, you’re helping to make your workplace more dynamic, something that makes it more interesting and therefore more engaging.
Think about it. What is it that most of us like or hate about our jobs? If salaries and benefits are equal, then company culture is usually right up there. Or, in other words, coworkers. And if your coworkers are essentially the same as you, then what fun is that? You want people to feel connected to those they work with, and you want them to be curious to know more, as this deepens this connection both among your employees but also between your employees and the company.
But for diversity to have this impact, you need to work at it. It’s not enough to just hire a bunch of people with different backgrounds and experiences and hope they become more engaged. Instead, you need to find ways to get them working together. Assign them to a team or set up a mentor program so that you can get different people collaborating, as that’s where the magic happens.
More Empathetic Workforce
“User experience” and “customer experience” are two concepts receiving a lot of attention in today’s business world. With competition at an all-time high, it’s important to ensure your customers, or users, are having the best possible experience when engaging with your company or brand. And the best way to do this is to spend time thinking about what life might be like in your customers’ or users’ shoes.
Taking this type of empathetic approach will help you better understand the challenges and struggles of your target audience, and this will make it easier for you to develop solutions to help people address them. And building diversity in your workplace is a great way to help foster this type of approach in your company. After all, how can you expect your employees to relate to your customers if they can’t first relate with each other?
Again, for this to work, you need to find ways to get people connected. Off-site events, teambuilding activities, and parties are all great nonwork things you can do to bring people closer. But you can also rearrange teams, put new ones together, or roll out work groups that have people teaming up with new colleagues. And if you do this, you’ll soon be able to enjoy all the business benefits diversity has to offer.
Consider Working with a Consultant
As you might expect, the concept of diversity can be a bit touchy. As a result, if you’re new to initiatives such as this one, you may want to spend some time working with a diversity consultant. He or she will help you identify where you can improve and will help you audit your policies and processes to make sure you’re doing the most you can to promote diversity. But whether or not you choose this route, there’s no doubt that you can start improving your company’s diversity today.
Kevin Conner is the founder and CEO of two successful businesses. He understands the positive impact the right workforce can make on company culture and also the bottom line. He also founded and runs Broadband Search, a Web-based Internet service comparison tool, which runs with an entirely remote, global team.