A 2019 study by McKinsey reaffirmed that the business case for diversity in the workplace continues to strengthen. The analysis also found that companies in the top quartile for diversity, particularly gender diversity, were 25% more likely to have above average profitability.
Diverse environments aren’t just a trend anymore – they have become a necessity. It is of paramount importance that your organisation embraces diversity to bring out tangible and direct benefits for your team.
Not only are you welcoming employee engagement, but you are also enhancing your profit rate by bringing in better talent. This in turn brings in diverse ideas and perceptions, and helps you outperform your competitors.
Read on to know how diversity can enhance an organisation and why you should employ individuals with varying characteristics and backgrounds.
What does organisational diversity look like?
There are a variety of ways in which you make your space inclusive. You could view it as gender diversity with equal male and female employees or generational diversity with both millennials and baby boomers or hire people from the LGBTQ community.
With a plethora of cultural backgrounds, you can enhance your team’s abilities and create an inclusive environment. How does this help? It motivates your employees and levels the playing field for most people. It will help you generate better ideas, and it will give you an advantage over other brands as you have talent from all directions.
“We never intended to make our space diverse. I guess that’s the best kind of diversity – the unintentional kind that just happens. Unconsciously, we recruited a lot of people and only recently realised how diverse the team is. No two people are from the same place . To name a few employees, we have one person from Tamilnadu, one from Himachal Pradesh, one from Nagaland, one from Karnataka, and we are based in Rishikesh! This is the best kind of diversity as you don’t make the employees feel like they owe you one for involving them,” said the founder of a reputed book publishing agency in India.
A study in 2020 noted that workplace diversity is one of the key trends of the year. This was due to the pandemic when companies began to hire people globally during the infamous work-from-home phase.
Leaders were not only trying to be politically correct; they were looking for a competitive advantage. “We are a travel magazine that aims to bring in diverse perspectives from around the globe. But with all our people in Bengaluru, there’s only so much authentic content you can manage through online research. The pandemic was a boon for us as all our reporters worked from home. It helped us hire people from specific parts of the country and even freelancers who contributed to specific articles. Our 2020 edition sold more copies than all the others,” said a content curator at a reputed travel magazine in Bengaluru.
To make your space more diverse, you need to first know the benefits of doing so. This will help you determine what kinds of people you wish to bring in that align with your goals. For example, if you are a marketing agency that is partnering with a brand that makes sanitary pads, you could use a few more female employees.
Read on to know the benefits of having a diverse workspace before we delve into how you can embrace diversity yourself.
#1 New skills, expertise, and perspectives
When you bring in people from different backgrounds, you get a taste of various skills and global experiences. Imagine you are at your office canteen and find a buffet spread full of various food. You have Chinese dumplings, Indian breads, Italian pizza, and much more. Wouldn’t you prefer to try a mixed platter like this as opposed to one specific type of food?
In a very literal sense, you will get to taste diverse foods from different cultures and backgrounds. So if you brought the same diversity to your workplace, imagine how much your output could change.
From planning to execution, your diverse team can bring a variety of perspectives, expertise and skill sets to increase productivity.
#2 Better innovation and creativity
Your business will gain exposure to varied forms of innovation and creative strategies. It is as simple as recruiting two people who see the same thing differently. One would see the number 6 and the other would see the number 9.
But this subtle change in perception is what will create a massive impact on your business growth and approach to problem-solving. According to Harvard Business Review, diverse organisations have increased innovation that results in 19% increase in revenue.
This leads to faster and better solutions for your problems and give you an edge over your competitors. Your decision-making rate increases as well due to exciting conversations and informed processes.
#3 More employee engagement rates
Did you know that Deloitte conducted a research recently for almost 1,500 of its employees? It concluded that employee engagement is an outcome of diversity. It could be because of inclusion in meetings and making decisions or something as simple as allowing staff to wear their native clothing to the office.
While employee experience is about the entire journey that the staff has right from submitting their application to their departure, employee engagement is about the connection they have with their organisation, and this can change throughout the employee experience. Employee engagement is a direct result of workplace diversity – if you have one, you have the other.
#4 Enhanced employee retention
When you accept people for who they are and show them that you value them, they will feel happier and trust you more. This will improve their chances of staying with your company and reduce turnover rates. Happy employees will keep your company’s reputation intact and even enhance it.
By creating a diverse and inclusive organisation, you make your employees feel like they belong in your company and have a dedicated job to do. You will create a team of people who work at a socially responsible and HUMAN agency that has a personality. It builds the company’s brand and reputation as someone who has fair employment practices and is therefore a desirable employer.
#5 New markets and partners
Diversity doesn’t end with your employees. It could extend to your clients, business partners, and markets as well. Try to understand your partners and the culture of their countries. This could open doors to various new markets and opportunities.
You can project your business as a desirable place to work and a business asset for customers. It will help you attract top talent from various parts of the globe. It will enhance your business both professionally and internally with better hiring results as well.
Back to the question- How can I incorporate diversity in my organisation?
You can enhance the diversity in your company in very subtle ways – while still creating rivulets of massive change in your employees. HR departments should focus on diversity and make it a priority and not a tick box exercise. They must revamp their processes, plans, hiring practices and work structures so diversity and inclusion become a normal part of the organisation.
Other methods to incorporate diversity would be to include in all job adverts that you are an equal opportunity employer. You can hire interns from diverse backgrounds. And also, conduct diversity and inclusion training. Learn to celebrate the differences as well.
“We made a simple change. We encouraged our employees to mention their pronouns in their mail footers. This would give all the other employees and customers an insight into how they prefer to be addressed. They can mention he/him, she/her, they/them, and so on using the pronouns that resonate with them. This subtle change made our employees come out of the closet and address each other the way they preferred to. We were able to become allies of the LGBTQ community as well and build empathy in our workplace,” said an employee at a well-known IT company in Chennai.
While companies are focusing on diversity, they often overlook inclusion. Diversity practices will fail without inclusion. They go hand in hand. Without inclusion, the diverse set of employees you have hired will feel excluded, disengaged and unsupported and will leave the organisation soon. So make sure that you focus on inclusion as well.