To continuously meet and exceed the demands of your customer in today’s society, having a diverse workforce is no longer a luxury - it is a necessity.
Businesses will struggle to thrive and grow if everyone in them thinks and behaves the same way. Having a diverse workforce with people of different ages, gender, race, physical ability, sexual orientation, educational, societal and technological backgrounds opens a wealth of possibilities and helps to encourage creativity, foster innovation and challenge thinking.
To achieve the real benefits of having a diverse workforce, leaders and managers must design and implement strategies to increase diversity within specific business units (e.g. increasing the number of women in STEM roles), rather than creating a blanket policy which is unlikely to achieve business and financial growth. These strategies must also create an inclusive workplace culture where their diverse workforce is engaged if they wish to obtain the real value of such a workforce and maintain this standard.
The 5 Key Benefits of Workforce Diversity:
- Recruitment and retention of employees - The more diverse and inclusive a workplace is, the easier it will be to attract and retain your employees. People are more likely to work for brands that actively support and promote their policies on diversity and inclusion. Almost 50% of millennials consider D&I to be an important factor when choosing a job (1).
- Breadth of experience and viewpoints - Decisions and ideas are often better when coming from a group with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
- Attract a wider talent pool - If a business wants to increase engagement and retention from any diverse group, the greatest return may be in increasing engagement in the largest such group first – women. Companies with more than 30% women executives outperform companies with less or none at all (2).
- Community engagement, insight, exposure – There is no better way to gain insight and exposure to new and current markets than to have employees that represent these markets and demographics. No business survives without knowing their audience. What better way to understand your audience, how to reach them and increase your market share, then having employees that represent your customer base.
- Gain a competitive advantage – By capitalising on all the opportunities presented by the breadth of experience, talent, vision and culture that a diverse workforce brings, a business can get ahead of competitors restricted to a narrower spectrum.
In other words, a diverse workforce can only be good for business, as it helps support growth and increases market share. McKinsey reports that racially diverse organisations outperform competitors by 35% and gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than competitors (3).
Not only that, but there is an indisputable moral case that building a fairer and more inclusive workforce where people are valued and embraced for the similarities and differences is important. Every employee should be given the opportunity to develop their skills and talents, gain support and training, as well as be recognised and rewarded for their meaningful contribution.
Businesses should aim to have strategies in place that go way beyond their legal obligations to diversity and inclusion. It should not just be about meeting targets and quotas. Investing in diversity and inclusion benefits both the employer and employee. It’s time we all took it seriously.