The Unequivocal Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
The United States is truly a melting pot of ideas, concepts, and opinions from people with different beliefs systems, ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 25% of the country is part of a minority ethnic group. In fact, in many states and districts, ethnic minorities are on the verge of becoming the majority, including New Mexico (49% Hispanic), Texas (40% Hispanic), Hawaii (38% Asian), and Washington D.C. (46% African American), based on figures crunched by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, women outnumber men by approximately 30 million.
This in part explains why so many organizations are increasingly diverse, which is something that a substantial portion of Americans consider valuable. Among millennials — who account for the largest generation in terms of age — nearly 50% of them consider diversity and inclusion an important element of an employer’s makeup when looking for a new job, according to a poll conducted by Weber Shandwick.
But diversity in the workplace isn’t just about reflecting the state of the U.S. from a compositional point of view. Employee diversity also enables businesses to thrive and improve in ways that may not be available among businesses where everyone comes from the same background. In short, diversity can yield discovery and intelligent insight by being able to see not both sides, but all sides of a problem, issue, matter, or topic.
Here are just a handful of the ways in which diversity in the workplace can help you build a better business:
Inspires innovation and thought leadership
It’s said that competition is the mother of innovation. That’s certainly the case among many companies today, as several of them provide or develop similar services or products. To earn customer loyalty, however, businesses must be constantly thinking outside the box to generate interest and enhance retention. Organizations whose workforce is highly diverse tend to be more inventive. According to findings put together by Josh Bersin Research, “high-performance businesses,” defined as those that were both “inclusive” and “managed,” were nearly two times more likely to be change-ready and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders than what was typical for their market.
Yields smarter, more informed decisions
Every action is a choice, even those that aren’t taken. The key is to make decisions that ultimately result in a positive outcome. Many studies have corroborated the fact that diversity drives better decisions. As detailed in a whitepaper from the firm Cloverpop, a U.K. study examining hundreds of business decisions and their outcomes found that group decisions were more likely to lead to growth than decisions made by one person or business leader. Additionally, diverse teams were more likely to reach conclusions on what should or shouldn’t happen quicker than companies with individual decision-makers. The more diverse the groups were — in both ethnicity and gender — the more likely those decisions turned out to be favorable.
This may be because people from a range of different backgrounds bring with them perspectives that their colleagues haven’t experienced.
Can reduce turnover
Turnover waxes and wanes for just about every business. Several factors play into turnover, such as the health of the U.S. economy, wage growth, and engagement. Businesses that put an emphasis on a diverse workforce may be able to reduce turnover because this characteristic is in line with what more Americans want these days, as referenced on the Weber Shandwick poll. The survey also found that employers that prioritized diversity and inclusion did so to improve morale. The tenor and prevailing mood of a workplace can also influence whether workers would rather stay than go.
May expand hiring pool of applicants
Based on the latest figures available from the Labor Department, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at a 50-year low, dropping to 3.5% in September. While this is good news for the country’s economy, it’s bad news for organizations who remain in hiring mode, as fewer people are actively looking for work.
“2 in 3 jobseekers said diversity was important in evaluating the perks or benefits of a prospective employer.”
However, businesses that advertise their diversity in job postings — and can back it up — may be able to generate more interest from people who are thinking about branching out and trying something different. As polling from Glassdoor found, more than 2 in 3 jobseekers, both passive and active, said diversity in the workplace was something they looked at when evaluating the perks or benefits of a prospective employer.
Promotes quick thinking
It isn’t just about making the right decisions; the ability to make them quickly is also crucial. According to findings published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers Alison Reynolds and David Lewis discovered that teams comprised of people who were cognitively diverse, meaning differences in thought processing and approach, not only performed better than their less diverse cohorts, but completed challenges faster. For example, Team A — the one that had the highest degree of cognitive diversification — finished their assignment successfully in 21 minutes. This compared to well over 60 minutes for Team F — the least diverse — which also failed.
In order to be truly inventive, you need people who are creative. Some individuals are born with this talent and are able to repurpose what already exists so that it gains greater appeal. Ultimately, however, creativity is a function of diversity because every person has opinions. Those insights all derive from what they’ve experienced over the course of a lifetime. While it’s true that no two people are alike, they’re more likely to be dissimilar when they come from decidedly different backgrounds.
You may be able to cast a wider net by creating more job opportunities for workers to telecommute. According to a poll done by video conferencing firm Owl Labs, a majority of companies globally (56%) allow hires to work offsite, many of them entirely.
In doing so, organizations can have a larger pool of prospects from which to choose, whether that’s on the other side of the country or the globe.
Diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s a smart way of doing business that can yield excellent results. USC Consulting Group has more than 50 years of experience helping organizations achieve sustainable growth and operational excellence. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help you stand out in the ever-changing marketplace.