What is meant by workplace diversity?
With recent world events over the past year or so, the importance of workplace diversity has been a hot topic. However, diversity simply means the inclusion of people from every walk of life. Diversity is the practice of including people no matter what their gender, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, age or religion is (amongst others).
Introducing workplace diversity should be a major goal for any company. It demonstrates the inclusion of others and the inclusivity of the business. Workplace diversity can also lead to many benefits like a great talent pool, new perspectives, higher retention and increased productivity.
What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace?
With diverse teams, comes different experiences and unique and new perspectives. A melting pot of different experiences can help to boost knowledge and insight within a workplace.
Because of their different life experiences, diverse employees will be likely to have different skills and expertise that can be invaluable to a company. A diverse team, consisting of employees with a different cultural backgrounds, gender, age and/or socioeconomic status will contribute unique perspectives. These perspectives and ideas can be workshopped together and bring diverse solutions to the table, creating a larger pool of effective ideas.
Increased productivity and performance
The fact is that happy employees stay longer in their jobs. If employees feel happy, comfortable and accepted in their place of work, they'll likely stick around for longer. Companies with great inclusivity and a diverse workforce have a lower turnover rate with employees than those who don't.
If an employee feels uncomfortable or unaccepted in their workplace, this will likely be reflected in their performance and often result in decreased productivity. Employees who are more comfortable will feel more willing to communicate and excel in the workplace, and the result will be higher output, increased creativity and better employee engagement.
The ability to retain talent
Just one of the many benefits of diversity in the workplace includes the ability to retain staff. Hiring new staff can be expensive. Firstly, there are the costs of recruiting and hiring. But, there's also the considerable cost surrounding the amount of time current staff must take out of their daily schedule to train the new hire. Plus, employees often make expensive mistakes while learning the ropes of a new job. So, not only will workplace diversity make employees happier, but it should also save your company money due to lower employee turnover.
A larger talent pool
Though workplace diversity means far more than including different genders, just a single example of lack of workplace diversity is evident in specific industries which tend to focus on hiring a specific gender. Opening up the hiring pool to all genders can increase the pool of talent available for the role significantly.
Focusing on a single orientation - be it gender, race or religion - will narrow the talent pool and present fewer options. In fact, studies have shown that in this day and age employees are actually seeking companies that have diversity in the workplace. A 2020 Glassdoor study recently found that 76% of employees say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering and evaluating companies and job offers.
Increased marketing opportunities and improved reputation
As discussed above, the importance of workplace diversity to potential hires and current employees has been studied and proven in recent times. People want to work for businesses that have diverse teams and a diverse workforce. Advertising that's used to show employees with different backgrounds and diversity efforts can drive more employees to apply to work for a company, and the diversity initiatives should reflect well on the company's reputation.
How can a diverse workplace be achieved?
At face value, achieving a diverse workplace is as simple as ensuring that all hiring managers and HR teams are open to any applicant who applies for a job, regardless of their gender, age, background etc. A diverse workplace essentially starts with making sure that there's no discrimination in the hiring department, these employees must have the ability to judge an applicant solely on skill.
Of course, increasing diversity in a company without much current diversity takes time. Gradually, as more spots open up, more diverse applicants can have the opportunity to apply and obtain these positions.
A few other ways to encourage diversity in the workplace are:
Implement unconscious biases training with managers
Most people don't aim to be discriminatory, in fact, many don't even realise that they're being prejudice against people who don't fit their pre-determined categories. This is why it can be a good idea to implement a diversity initiative, like hiring a professional to speak to your management team about inclusivity. Unconscious biases training can provide the tools to help managers undo automatic ways of thinking that may lead to bias, and is a great way to encourage diversity in the workplace.
Overhaul your website to attract a diverse workforce
Sections like 'About Us' and the 'Careers' page on a company's website should be written in a way that makes minority groups feel comfortable to apply to work for the business. Use gender-neutral language and phrases. If you're not sure how to do this, you can consult a professional to help.
Strengthen discrimination policies
An 2019 article in Harvard Business Review found that 75% of respondents didn't think the wording of the discriminatory policies at their work was sufficient to stop discrimination. You can help stop discrimination in the workplace but ensuring your company takes a strong stand against it in your work policies, and that harsh penalties are dealt out to employees who violate the discrimination policy.
Ensure that there are diverse teams in positions of power
Workplace diversity should not just be implemented as a token to show that a business is forward-thinking. A diverse workforce should demonstrate diversity in leadership roles. For example, there should be diverse executive boards.
People of diverse backgrounds can bring fresh ideas and different talents to the table. Unfortunately, most people with diverse backgrounds have had experience with discrimination. This experience can bring compassion and understanding when dealing with lower-ranking employees who have dealt with a similar situation. Having diversity in workplace leads will also help diverse job seekers feel more comfortable applying for a job in an industry where prejudice is a common concern, encouraging a more diverse workforce.