Workplace diversity has become essential for any business that strives to gain a competitive advantage in the global economy. It impacts both the internal and external environments of a business.
A diverse workforce improves employee engagement, which boosts performance and drives profitability. It can also help build a brand’s reputation and increase customer loyalty. Moreover, it enhances the ability of a business to reach foreign markets.
Thus, including diversity in your business strategy is no longer just an option but a necessity.
What Is Workplace Diversity?
Workplace diversity is the heterogeneity of the workforce in respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and other social or group characteristics. This heterogeneity is enriched by differences in knowledge, skill sets, personalities, and experiences.
Diversity in the workplace brings value to the business organization when those differences are accepted and valued by everyone. Varying perspectives bring unique insights, innovations, and creativity to the organization.
Diversity goes hand in hand with inclusion. Inclusivity creates an optimal work environment where every employee can function at their best regardless of their unique individual characteristics.
How to Foster Workplace Diversity
Creating diversity and inclusion in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight. It is not a simple program that you implement and set a timeline for the goal to be reached. This is a culture that is developed and fostered through time.
The best time to start creating a culture of diversity is now. Here are a few strategies you can employ within your organization:
Start with the leadership
Accepting and valuing diversity and inclusivity should always start at the executive level. Management can take the first step by including diversity into the core values of the company.
You can also establish a diversity and inclusion vision. This should be trickled down to the front liners so that every individual in the organization shares that vision.
Implement better recruitment methods
Hire a wider talent pool of more diverse individuals by removing biases during your hiring process. Removing biases enables you to hire the right talent regardless of their personal background.
One concrete way to remove bias in your selection process is by removing personal details from the criteria. Set achievement-based criteria instead.
Re-evaluate how and where you source candidates and your entire candidate selection process. Remove any unconscious gender biases in job descriptions, interviews, and performance reviews. Use speech that promotes inclusion and diversity.
Search for organizations in your industry that have the best practices in diversity and inclusion. Use their recruitment process as a benchmark for your own hiring process.
Revolutionize your work design
Conduct bias trainings to uncover areas where there are unconscious biases that impede work quality. Equip managers with better tools to address issues that are identified during these trainings.
Offer work-life balance by providing flexible working conditions. For instance, telecommuting and flexible hours enable women to balance their career growth and their family responsibilities.
Ensure equal access to employee development programs such as career development, financial literacy, work-life resources, and trainings. These services must be offered to all employees regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.
Ensure equity in evaluation, promotion, and pay
Performance evaluation should be achievement-based. Review your performance feedback processes to check for any biases that may affect the outcome of the assessments. There should always be equitable promotion selection criteria.
Ensure transparency in the promotion process. Manage metrics and trends to make sure that all employees are given equal treatment and opportunities.
Eliminate pay disparity by monitoring rates and ensuring fair compensation for everyone. Provide equal pay for women and minorities. Base salaries and bonuses on roles, qualifications, experiences, and job performances.
Build reward systems that can be adapted to individual goals
Most reward systems are based on what motivates the majority. However, different people have different motivation drivers.
Some employees may be motivated by monetary bonuses, others by awards and recognition. There are also those that seek to increase their chances for promotion.
Instead of enforcing a universal reward system, you can utilize a more flexible and adaptable system that can motivate and engage your diverse workforce.
Train managers in conflict management
Conflict is unavoidable in heterogenous teams. To avoid a toxic work culture that may stem from differences among diverse employees, managers should be equipped with conflict management skills.
With effective team management, diversity can breed innovation and result in positive changes in the workplace. Instead of feeling alienated or undervalued, each employee can be encouraged to voice their concerns or opinions.
Encourage open communication through employee feedback
To enhance the appreciation of workplace diversity, develop practices that facilitate open communication. Establish programs that can identify and overcome barriers to your diversity and inclusion efforts.
Gather candid feedback on how employees feel and on what can be done to further your vision of diversity. A robust feedback system becomes an effective talent management tool when it is open, transparent, and secure.
The Benefits of Workplace Diversity
With a diverse and inclusive work environment, businesses can reap the following benefits:
Wider and better talent pool
A diverse workforce does not discriminate against any individual and thus has a much wider talent pool. Your business can harness the unique talents, skills, and attributes of every individual in this pool.
Employees from diverse backgrounds bring fresh perspectives to your business. When you put these different perspectives together, you get a more holistic view that can improve the way you do your business.
Increased employee engagement
Several studies have already established the direct link between diversity and employee engagement. Including diverse identities in an organization significantly drives employee engagement. It is widely believed that diverse and inclusive teams perform better than others.
According to a study by Gallup, it is more likely for engaged employees to say that their company values diverse ideas. Another study by Gallup shows that comparable revenue and net profit increased by 46% and 58%, respectively, with a combination of employee engagement and gender diversity.
Increased employee engagement leads to higher job satisfaction, lower employee turnover rate, and better overall performance. Moreover, employee engagement not only impacts employee retention, loyalty, and productivity, but also positively affects customer satisfaction and business profitability.
Workplace diversity directly affects the overall performance of a business. Putting together a team of individuals with diverse attributes and skill sets can create a more positive work environment where creativity and innovation are fostered.
Better brand reputation
Fostering diversity in your company reflects your openness to other cultures and beliefs. This boosts your brand reputation and helps earn customer loyalty.
When you promote diversity within your company, you create an image for your brand as a socially responsible organization. This draws customers and makes it easier for them to relate to your company and your brand.
Create a Culture of Diversity for Better Employee Engagement
It is essential for businesses to create a culture of diversity for better employee engagement.
Implement programs and strategies to create changes from the leadership to the front lines. Ensure that these changes are applied at all levels of the business.
Create a workplace culture where all employees are empowered, included, and engaged in the vision and mission of the company. Accomplishing this will lead to better business growth and profitability.