Five Reasons Why Workplace Diversity is a Key to Success
Globally, HR and psychology literature is focusing more and more on the impact that workplace diversity can have, both on employee wellbeing and productivity, as well as on a company’s profits.
More and more companies across the world are embarking on diversity programmes, not just to gain the moral high ground, but also to improve their bottom line in increasingly competitive markets.
“One of the main reasons workplace diversity is so important stems from the moral argument that every individual should have the opportunity to be the best they can be,” says Garth Crossley, sales manager for Thomas International Australia.
“Research has shown that workplace diversity has the ability to engender feelings of belonging in a staff complement, and can lead to more innovation, driving better decision making and making teams more productive,” he adds.
Garth highlights five reasons why improving diversity in the workplace can have a positive effect on both morale and that all-important bottom line.
1. Acquisition of new skills and innovation
“Diversity helps to introduce staff with unique skills into a workforce,” he says. “Global research has also shown us that 85 percent of senior executives feel diversity is critical in driving innovation because of the different perspectives it brings to a team.”
2. Better decision making
“Diverse teams have the potential to make better decisions.” In one research study it was found that diversity led to an increase in scrutiny and, ultimately, better decision making and performance on a specific task or challenge. “Diversity shapes how we view situations. Cognitive functioning and attitudes vary with demographics, so a more diverse team can be better equipped to deal with unforeseen challenges.”
3. Personality plusses
“Personality diversity has long been proposed to have an impact on the effectiveness of teams. As early as the 1950s it was found that groups of people with diverse character traits were better at solving problems. Demographically dissimilar people were perceived more favourably if they were more extroverted and showed higher capacity for self-monitoring.”
4. Employee and client satisfaction
Demographics of both the general and working population have significantly shifted, giving rise to a desire for more diversity in the workplace and a need to attract staff with unique skills. “Demographic shifts are an important consideration with clients as well as employees. Our research has found that two thirds of employers feel a diverse workforce which displays improved demographics is required to better serve their diverse customer base.”
5. Financial gains
“Companies possessing a more diverse workforce (both in terms of gender and ethnicity), are more likely to outperform less diverse competitors.
“Financial benefits from diversity come from the varied approaches and perspectives which in turn lead to more ideas and innovation, leading to better decision making, more complex thinking and increased ability to deal with unforeseen challenges.
“For example, our research has shown a direct correlation between gender diversity and significant improvement in earnings before interest and tax,” he adds.
There are many practical changes organisations can make to improve workplace diversity.
“Diversity within a workplace is so much more than a moral issue. Organisations can harness the difference in people to help them become more innovative, more skilled and better able to cater to their clients’ diverse needs.
“In today’s competitive environment, workplace diversity can be the key to success.”