Diversity in the Workplace: What, Why and How?

More than it being a trending topic, what is “Diversity”? Is it just the stock photo image of white men in a meeting room with one person of colour? Or does it go beyond that? Smallbusiness.chron.com defines “Diversity in the Workplace” as “composed of employees with varying characteristics including, but not limited to, religious and political beliefs, gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location.” This is a pretty straight forward explanation, but what does it mean for employers, and more importantly, for us employees?

What is Diversity?

If you Google the word “Diversity”, the first image to pop up is a collage of multi-coloured hands. This connotes a lovely sentiment about inclusion, but diversity in a workplace is so much more complicated than that. According to theundercoverrecruiter.com, “there is far more to creating a diverse workplace than hiring people who fit into different age brackets or creating the perfect male to female ratio.”

Forming a diverse team is not limited to simply picking out people who look and act differently and throwing them together. The act must justify the rationale behind it. A diverse workplace is ideal because, apart from it being the right thing to do, pragmatically, it will provide a competitive advantage, innovation, and of course, profit. If a team only has one set of lenses in which to view the world with, then the results will always be the same. Problems will only have one set of solutions. But with a team that is truly diverse, creativity is honed, and ideas are in abundance.

Creating a diverse workplace should always be more than a PR move to bump up a company’s reputation, because if the movement lacks meat in its bones, then the system will undoubtedly collapse. As www.forbes.com stated, “Every organization is unique, so every diversity initiative needs to be too.” Diversity is a movement that should be tailor-fit to each company that adheres to it.

Why Choose Diversity?

Apart from it being a politically correct move, diversity in a work place has a multitude of benefits. From fostering a creative atmosphere, to bringing in new perspectives, to conquering work place dilemmas, a diverse environment takes innovation up a notch.

According to theundercoverrecruiter.com, here are five of the most upfront and practical benefits:

    1. Diverse Talents = Diverse Skill Set
      Each employee can bring something new to the table. It can be a skill, an expertise or an innate knowledge on an otherwise unknown culture. When your roster of people is diverse, then your knowledge as a company will broaden as well. This does not end on knowledge. Through variety you gain a very important asset: Perspective. As stated in inside.6q.io, “Diversity in cultures means diversity in skills and therefore products and service offerings.”
    2. Creativity and Innovation at Your Fingertips
      How can you think outside of the box when you’re placed inside one? A glaring asset of diversity is the potential of innovation. Ideas are not built by the same kind of people sitting on their desks. Innovation starts with an idea, which is then thrown into another person, so on and so forth. Discourse and collaboration between very different minds, that is where great and innovative ideas com from.
    3. Breaking the Language Barrier
      Diversity does not end with employing people with different nationalities. But, having people who are native speakers of different languages is an enormous asset. If you are the type of employer who is looking to go big and go global, this is definitely something you need to look into. Especially since it terms of reputation, a company that represents diversity would look better in the eyes of potential clients, especially the global ones.
    4. A Larger Pool of Talents
      People gravitate towards places of acceptance. They also stay longer there, because why would you choose to remain in a place where you are treated as an outsider? With this in mind, a diverse company would have first dibs on assets than a cookie-cutter corporation. As is stated in www.talentlyft.com , “Workplace diversity is an especially beneficial asset for attracting top talent from diverse talent pools.”
    5. Productive Assets = Profit
      A good working environment is vital for talents to perform and achieve their full potential. You cannot expect people who are uncomfortable and unhappy to be at the peak of their performance. Sure, they may be unhappy yet still function, but if you want a company with people who excel, environment is crucial.In fact if we’re going to include facts and figures into the narrative, according to www2.deloitte.com: High inclusion but low diversity churns out more engagement (67%), while high diversity but low inclusion churns out a lower engagement figure of (20%). The best scenario that gave the highest level of engagement at 101% is a combination of both diversity and inclusion.

      Diversity does not end at the hiring process it should continue throughout the company culture in the form of inclusion initiatives.

How Do We Create Diversity in The Workplace?

By now, the fact that diversity is a good and beneficial thing has long been established. But why is it still so hard to achieve and succeed in? According to Forbes, very few companies have a diversity initiative that actually works. There are various ways on how to incorporate diversity. One good example is in advertising. Companies should do well to be inclusive. Of course, a clear target audience is still crucial, but there is a fine line between targeting and excluding an entire group of people.

Another crucial way is to diversify the people in the company as well, real and authentic diversity, not just the poster child version of it. This goes beyond the hiring process. This is included in the system that runs through the company as well. This involves inclusivity and creating changes within the company to accommodate this initiative.

Ultimately, while the word “Diversity” is both a buzzword and a trending topic, there is still a lot that has to be done in the implementation.

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