Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

Businesses are more likely to outperform their rivals when they champion diversity in the workplace. The benefits of a diverse workforce on an organisation is considerable. In this blog, we’re going to dig into some of these benefits, why they help a workplace to flourish and the small actions you can take to increase diversity in your own teams.

Definition of Diversity

When we talk about diversity in an organisation it usually means the physical traits and background experience of the people who work there. It goes hand-in-hand with representation. If you can see people like you working in a company, you are going to be more drawn to jobs within that organisation or field.

Diversity also needs to look at different personality traits. This includes ways of thinking, culture and experience. Each of these contributes to our worldview and how we might approach a problem or suggest a solution.

The greater the diversity within a team, the more ideas and viewpoints you are going to get. It is like going from seeing the world in black and white to seeing a rainbow of ideas.

One of the outcomes of the advances in remote working over the past two years is that the people you hire are no longer tied to a physical location. You can access talent from further afield. This creates opportunities to develop a more diverse workforce than ever before.

Benefits of Diversity

A report by McKinsey finds that organisations with greater gender diversity outperform those without by 25%. This is backed by research by the University of Glasgow and Leicester which shows a 30% increase in performance.

Research also shows that a diverse workforce is 3.6 times more likely to deal with personnel problems and 2.9 times more likely to identify and build leaders.

Harvard Business Review finds that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster and another piece of research finds that a diverse team is 87% better at decision-making. Finally, Deloitte research shows that diverse teams are more engaged employees.

We know that diversity in the workplace helps a business to be more innovative, have engaged staff, and have fewer sick days and turnover.

If the evidence shows that a diverse team is good for your business, why are there there are more men called John at the board level than there are women? Plus, the UK has a 12% gap in employment for ethnic minority groups compared to white employees. And people of colour only make up 6 % of top management positions.

Organisations can do more to balance diversity in the workplace. Here are some ideas of how this can happen.

1. Acknowledge Subconscious Bias

While there is an increase in diversity and inclusion training, Harvard Business Review argues that this does not improve recruitment or retain talent in practice. This is because building awareness is not the same as creating a cultural change.

“It’s not enough to hire a team of smart people – you need to allow that diversity to be seen and expressed – to be included. That means letting everyone be themselves,” explains Sandie Bakowski, Organisational Psychologist.

“To realise the benefits of diverse thought, you have to foster an environment of truly inclusive leadership. This allows diversity to flow so everyone can be themselves.”

Instead, organisations need to understand the subconscious bias that exists in their hiring practices. The Boston Symphony Orchestra changed its audition to try to increase the hiring of women. They found that blind auditions made little difference until they asked those auditioning to take off their shoes. At this point, there was a change in how many women they hired.

Those judging the auditions, while trying to address the subconscious bias, were still subject to it as they heard the auditions walk into the auditorium whether wearing heels or flats.

While your business may not be able to eliminate all subconscious bias, building awareness into your hiring and development processes can help increase diversity within your workplace.

2. Look at HR Policies

One of the best ways to develop diversity in the workplace is to look at your HR policies. Do they allow for parenting? Or remote and flexible work? If not, look at how you can attract more diverse talent through your policies and where they might need adjusting.

This will help you attract diverse talent and retain valuable employees who are innovative.

3. Communicate Well

Communication is also crucial, especially between leadership and your teams. Leaders are the key to culture change, teams will take their cues from what their manager says and does. When managers help develop and nurture the diversity within the team, the benefits we’ve covered here will start coming to fruition.

4. Create a Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the number one thing that Google and other organisations say contributes to high-performing teams. When you allow your people to treat their work as an experiment, you allow diversity to flourish. People will start to say when things are not working. And when they have ideas to improve the way they work.

Psychological safety creates a working environment where your people want to learn and develop. It also helps embed a culture of diversity that goes deeper than creating awareness.

Diversity in the Workplace

Overall, diversity in the workplace allows for different ways of thinking. Instead of doing things as they’ve always been done, you will find your staff are more engaged and innovative. This, in turn, leads to fewer sick days, more productivity and better outcomes for the company.

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