Diversity Gives Companies A Competitive Advantage
“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together” – Malcolm Forbes
Diversity has become a buzzword within the last decade. The difficulty with buzzwords is that few actually understand the concept behind the word. Others only understand how it potentially benefits the global economy neglecting the impact on an individual company. Integrating diverse practices and workforces is something all companies should work to achieve as the benefits attached help the company to ultimately mature.
The demographic of the United States and other established nations is rapidly changing and becoming more diverse in terms of both ethnicity, gender, religion and culture. Conversely, the demographic makeup of most top tier companies in industries that are significant economic producers is not as diverse by a long shot. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people of color only make up one-third of the workforce. That’s an alarmingly low number in terms of the vast communities of people of color. This also means there is a significant gap in college graduates being hired into in fields they are technically trained and qualified to be employed in.
Companies benefit greatly from diverse workplaces. Experiences alone are greatly beneficial. Individual experiences can often translate to engaging conversations and contributions in the workplace. Companies that lack diverse workforces lack diverse experiences. Multicultural workforces allow for multiple viewpoints which ultimately benefit the company’s integrity. Creativity and participation is often increased. Language and dialect are better understood. Many companies, such as Starbucks have been proactive in including employees of different religions in global conversations that affect the company. This benefits not only the company culture but the company output. If you are able to produce based on the demographic that you serve, you gain loyal customers and users of your service or product.
Unique cultures allow for unique viewpoints. Responses during team engagements are more
spontaneous and ideas are newer.
Diversity and Inclusion Goes Beyond Race
When reviewing hiring statistics and patterns, it’s also important to remember that diversity also includes gender, religion and specific cultures. Industries that were once male dominated have seen more women enter the workforce but not necessarily on senior and management levels that lead departments and subsequently organizations. Without diverse leadership opportunities, employees often feel disconnected to management and less valued.
Many companies, such as Starbucks have been proactive in including employees of different religions in global conversations that affect the company. This benefits not only the company culture but the company output. If you are able to produce based on the demographic that you serve, you gain loyal customers and users of your service or product. Processes require implementation and organic integration over a long-term period. A diverse office or workforce won’t occur overnight. Inclusion does not just occur at a lower management level. C-Suite leadership including CEOs must take opportunities to lead theircompanies into a fully integrated 21st-century workforce.
Ongoing evaluations of hiring practices are recommended for all companies and organizations in order to verify that standards of diversity are intact and evolving as the company grows and matures. Training is also a positive way to enforce the company culture as more diverse practices are introduced. Getting to the core of employee needs promotes a cohesive workplacethat helps to build team decision making.
The bottom line is that diversity is necessary even when not mandatory. Diversity is not a trend or short term strategy for hiring. Being inclusive and maintaining a multicultural, pluralistic workforce is beneficial to a company’s evolution.