Making the Case for Diversity: Why A Diverse Workforce is Great for Business
14 July 2020
Diversity is much more than a checkbox on a to-do list — it makes companies better by bringing different perspectives to the table. But how do those different perspectives affect a company’s success? And how can you achieve diversity in your workplace?
In today’s teams, “diversity” covers a range of characteristics, including race, sex, gender identity, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. A workforce is diverse when a wide variety of groups are represented — and welcomed.
After all, a truly diverse workforce is one that not only looks diverse but encourages diversity of thought, too. In this way, diversity brings together people of different backgrounds and mindsets to foster innovation and new ways of thinking, to benefit the organization.
From profit to performance: the undeniable benefits of diversity in the workplace
Many leaders strive for D&I because it’s the right thing to do. And while this is of course true, the commercial advantages of a diverse workforce are worth championing as well:
Diversity boosts employee engagement
There’s no doubting the power and potential of an engaged employee. If you add diversity into the mix, you can elevate engagement levels — making your organization a better, more motivating place to be.
A 2020 study by DiversityInc found that employees who feel truly welcome in their workplace:
- Take 75% fewer sick days
- Exhibit 50% lower turnover risk
- …saving the business thousands in lost productivity and recruitment costs.
Psychological safety plays an important role, too. Employees who feel that they can “bring their whole selves to work” are 42% less likely to look for a new job in the next year.
When employees feel comfortable being themselves, they can put their energy into doing great work — rather than trying to change or fit in.
Diverse companies are more competitive
Diversity pays dividends and separates you from the competition:
- Companies in the top 25% for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.
- Organizations with inclusive cultures are 3x higher performing, 6x more innovative, and 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
Looking for an example of this in action? PC vendor Lenovo has embedded diversity into its company culture — with innovation and success appearing as powerful by-products. Lenovo’s Chief Diversity Officer, Yolanda Conyers, explains:
“As one of the world’s biggest and most admired brands, we reach customers in over 160 countries… This takes more than out-of-the-box thinking, because it’s not just one box. It’s a hundred different boxes. A million different boxes. It takes every dimension of our diversity. All our diverse mindsets, skills, and cultural backgrounds, to deliver such a wide array of technology, from smartphones to data centers.”
Lenovo’s commitment to diversity allows them to serve a global customer base and continue to innovate and expand their business. And with 75% of customers saying they’re loyal to brands who reflect who they are, a diverse team helps you foster loyalty with a growing audience.
How to achieve diversity at work (and reap the benefits of workforce diversity for yourself)
Becoming more diverse is an admirable — and commercially-savvy — goal, but it won’t happen overnight. Instead, you’ll need to tackle your objective one step at a time:
1. Challenge your recruitment practices
In many organizations, the current recruitment process simply isn’t fit for purpose. Inherent biases slip in, and diversity falls by the wayside. To get it right for your team, you should:
Look at a candidate’s skills, strengths, and achievements. Will they bring a new perspective to your team, or do they come from the same background as a lot of your current employees?
Start by recruiting diverse recruiters. A more diverse recruiting team will be more attentive to diversity (or lack thereof) in the recruiting process.
Train interviewers for biases. Provide unconscious bias training and sensitivity training to your recruiters and interviewers to help them understand and pay attention to diversity issues.
Leverage machine learning. Machine learning and data science tools (like Headstart’s diversity-driven Applicant Matching and Management System) can help companies find the right high-potential employees to build a diverse workforce.
The best bit? A non-bias recruitment process creates a virtuous cycle. 64% of candidates say that diversity is an important factor in their decision to accept a job offer. Build a diverse workforce, and you’ll attract greater diversity as a result.
2. Lead by example
Diversity initiatives need executive buy-in before they can make a real difference.
Not only is it important to have a diverse leadership team, but these key decision makers need to understand the benefit — and business case — for promoting diversity within the ranks, as well.
Push the envelope with your C-Suite diversity. 78% of workers say their company lacks diversity in senior positions. Will you help turn that stat around?
If you do, it’ll be much easier to elevate diversity in all other levels of the business, too.
3. Focus on inclusion, not just diversity
As diversity advocate Vernā Myers once said, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Hiring diverse candidates will make your workforce more diverse. An inclusive company culture keeps that diversity going strong. To encourage diversity in your day-to-day workings, you should:
Consider a diversity and inclusion council. “You need people who are going to make the time to roll up their sleeves and do the work,” says Jennifer Brown, diversity consultant and author. Business leaders have a lot of responsibility already, so large organizations should consider appointing dedicated staff to lead D&I initiatives. A diversity and inclusion council can help advocate for employees; representing different backgrounds, cultures, business functions, and locations.
Encourage employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are groups of employees with shared characteristics or life experiences. ERGs should be optional and run by employees, without HR involvement. ERGs focus on support, career development, and personal development at work.
Be transparent. No company is going to build a perfectly diverse workforce right away. Be transparent and honest with your employees about where your company stands now, what your diversity and inclusion goals are, and how you plan to get there in the future.
Wondering how Headstart can help your company overcome bias, to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Book your free demo today.
Headstart is on a mission to transform the way organisations hire! We are the world's first diversity driven Applicant Matching and Management System. We use Machine Learning and Data Science to transform the recruitment process, enabling clients to find the right high potential employees regardless of gender, ethnic status, sexual orientation or age.
With major brands like Accenture publicly supporting our mission, Headstart is already improving the recruitment experience for candidates around the world.
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