Diversity in the workplace is more than a hot topic right now; it’s become an essential consideration for everything from job advertisements to how we go about our daily lives. Much of this has stemmed from the major events over the course of the last few years, from the Me Too movement to the Black Lives Matter protests that were sparked in summer 2020.
Whatever the reason for the renewed focus on diversity in the workplace, it can only be seen as a positive. If you’re a team leader or business owner and you’re looking to find out more about what makes diversity such a crucial focus, read on.
Why is diversity so important?
There are several reasons why it’s important to encourage diversity in the workplace. For individuals who work for your company, it can be beneficial on a personal level as they learn about other cultures and about other people’s backgrounds. On a business slevel, this knowledge and understanding can help them to approach the work they do in a more mindful way, paving the way for fresh ideas and suggestions in meetings, for example.
From a business perspective, it can be both useful for building a better working environment and it can enhance the company’s reputation. Creating and nurturing a culture that embraces a range of voices and viewpoints, perspectives and opinions means that both employers and employees can broaden their understanding and develop both in a professional capacity and on a personal level.
If you’re a business owner, you’ll see that this feeds into the work that people produce. You’re more likely to find that people are engaged in their work if they are working for a company that embraces a diverse workforce.
This, in turn, means that your company is likely to see financial benefits as staff are more likely to want to work for you. According to a 2015 report by McKinsey, diversity correlates with financial success.
Here, the findings revealed that in the UK, greater gender diversity on the senior leadership team corresponded to the highest performance uplift. For every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and taxes rose by 3.5%.
However, a 2018 update by McKinsey revealed that ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams remains low. The research traced these roles back to representation starting with university graduates. In the UK, 22% of university students identify as black and minority ethnic, but just 8% of UK executives identified as this, revealing a sharp disparity, with talented graduates from diverse backgrounds not achieving executive roles.
If there are financial benefits for businesses that foster a diverse workforce, as well as an increased likelihood of engaging the workforce, it stands to reason that there should be a focus on looking at how leadership is approached. Introducing a diverse leadership team has the potential to boost business and grow understanding among employees.
What does diversity add to a company’s culture?
We’ve already touched on some of the benefits of having a diverse workforce. But what does it add to the culture?
First, it creates a sense of belonging for workers. If you’re a business owner who wants to bring a group of individuals together, creating an inclusive culture allows employees from different backgrounds to feel comfortable in the workplace.
It also helps managers become better leaders. They are more likely to be empathetic to the people they oversee if they have a broader understanding of the different experiences their team has encountered – and this, in turn, helps them to manage them in a more compassionate way.
Additionally, diversity in the workplace allows the company to grow with confidence. Individuals working alongside people from different backgrounds to their own gives them a chance to expand their knowledge. On a hiring level, it opens the door to talented graduates who are ready to showcase their skills.
How to introduce a diverse workplace
Here are some tips to help make your company more diverse:
- Look at hiring practices. Is there a tendency towards gender or racial bias? If so, take the time to unpick that and find ways to open roles up to everyone.
- Is there a pay gap? Are men on your team paid more than women for identical roles? Why is this the case?
- How is talent rewarded? Who is being promoted and why?
- Encourage diversity. If there are opportunities for educational moments, for instance during Pride month, encourage social events and meetings that focus on the issues, campaigns, and causes.