In an increasingly global economy, a diverse workforce provides companies with a competitive advantage over their peers. Diversity in the business environment is about more than gender, race, and ethnicity. High performance teams include individuals from varied educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, diverse religious and political beliefs, sexual orientation, cultures, behaviours, age, and physical abilities. Diversity benefits go well beyond optics. Unlike homogeneous teams that often succumb to “group-think”, which can impede creativity and innovation, diverse teams bring different perspectives and problem-solving skills that can ignite creativity and innovation, drive market growth and profitability. They also outperform their more homogenous peers across other metrics that matter, including recruitment and retention, employee engagement, customer loyalty and brand reputation.
The evidence in support of diversity is overwhelming and hard to ignore. As an example, just from a financial perspective, a report released by McKinsey in May 2020 revealed that companies in the top 25% for ethnic and cultural diversity were 36% more profitable than those in the bottom 25%. Additionally, Harvard Business Review also uncovered that more diverse companies had 19% higher innovation revenues. Diversity also has a significant impact on attracting and retaining top talent. A study from Glassdoor revealed that nearly 70% of active and passive job seekers evaluate whether a company’s workforce is diverse before applying or accepting a job offer. Furthermore, a Deloitte Millennial Survey showed 74% of millennials surveyed believe that their organization is more innovative when it is culturally inclusive. Diversity simply makes good business sense. However, building diversity and inclusiveness into team environments requires conscious effort. Here are a few best practice tips:
1. Commit to diversity in the workplace.
Conduct a full diversity audit. Analyze existing workplace policies, the percentage of underrepresented groups and compensation programs for employees. Develop and implement diversity friendly and inclusive workplace policies. Create a diversity statement on your company website to share the company’s position on diversity and inclusion.
2. Overcome recruiting biases.
Unconscious biases exist and influence our perception of reality and the decision we make, but they have no place in a company’s recruiting practices. Review existing practices to overcome innate or acquired biases when seeking qualified candidates for company vacancies. Establish a diversity hiring strategy and standardize recruiting practices. See our article on: “6 Simple Tips to Overcome Biased Recruiting” for a deeper read.
3. Develop strategic training programs.
Diversity training helps employees understand how multiplicity, whether cultural, educational, or socioeconomic, has an impact on the way people work together and interact. Training programs can cover anything from the concept of time and communication styles to dealing with conflict and self-identity.
4. Facilitate ongoing feedback.
Listen to employees and encourage them to share feedback to gain a better understanding of what’s going on. This type of feedback allows leaders to make more informed and smarter decisions to reduce or eliminate any pattern of discrimination or biases. There is no right or wrong way to solicit this type of feedback, whether it’s utilizing employee surveys or simply talking openly with employees, the point is to uncover and address discriminatory practices and develop well informed long-term strategies.
5. Make everyone feel valued.
Strive to ensure that employees from marginalized groups feel valued and appreciated. Frequent and inclusive recognition across all employee levels, from team members to C-suite managers should be encouraged. Studies show that an engaging culture of recognition promotes a sense of belongingness and connection, which fuels performance.
6. Build diverse teams.
Create diversified teams. Great talent is not defined by ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic standing. People, regardless of their different backgrounds can work together towards a common goal to drive innovation, creativity, and company successes. Collaboration should be a core company value to continue attracting and keeping a diverse workforce.
7. Provide leadership development opportunities.
Use a range of formal and informal professional development tools, such as mentoring, coaching and training, along with educational opportunities. Regularly evaluate internal talent to ensure marginalized employees are represented in the leadership development pipeline. Take advantage of other opportunities such as having team members attend networking events or industry conferences (virtually or physically).
8. Evaluate diversity efforts.
Make a point of regularly evaluating diversity efforts and effectiveness. Review what’s worked and what hasn’t by soliciting feedback from employees and teams. Knowing how to measure the success of a diversity or inclusion program can be challenging. However, there are various dimensions of diversity that can be used to help measure the effectiveness of programs including: a) basic or general characteristics (like age, race, gender, ethnicity), b) education, parental status, religious beliefs, c) job title, years of experience or other workplace measures, and d) style of work, including work habits, leadership, and communication style.
Companies worldwide need to be more engaged and vocal in promoting diversity in the workplace. Advocating for diversity isn’t a one-time initiative. Instead, it needs to be continually cultivated because it is one of the best ways to foster an open-minded, global company culture. Steven R. Covey once said: “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”, and in today’s post-pandemic economy, it’s critical for business recovery, resilience and reimagination. Embracing diversity is one of the best ways to ensure a formidable, future ready company. Vexxit can help your business with implementing diversity policies by matching you with an experienced HR consultant who can guide you through the various nuances of building diverse high-performance and inclusive teams.