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Why is diversity in the workplace important? First, let’s talk about what workplace diversity is. Diversity means different. In the workplace, it means hiring people of various races, genders, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation.
So why is it important to hire different types of people?
Diversity and inclusion strengthen the workplace. Not only does it benefit an organization but it’s also the right thing to do. It does provide its own unique challenges but the benefits well out outweigh the negatives.
Why is Diversity in the Workplace Important
- Larger Hiring Pool
By not limiting yourself or your organization to a certain type of person, you increase the hiring pool significantly. This gives you the opportunity to have more applicants. More applicants mean you’re more likely to get the right applicant. You should always hire the best person for the job instead of settling for somebody just to fill the position.
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- Different Perspectives
People with different backgrounds and beliefs all bring different perspectives to the workplace. These various perspectives can be very beneficial if cultivated. What do I mean by cultivated? I mean when you as a manager or leader encourage an environment of inclusion and encourage others to share their perspectives, these perspectives will help you see many ideas and solutions you didn’t even think of. The important part is making everybody feel like it’s ok to have their own views and opinions.
- Improves Productivity
Increased productivity is a byproduct of hiring better people and having multiple perspectives leading to more ideas and solutions to problems. More productivity within an organization leads to higher profits. More profits are the goal of pretty much every organization.
- Increased Creativity
Like increased productivity, increased creativity is one of the amazing byproducts of having different perspectives. Various employees can come up with some crazy ideas that work. Without diversity, you would have never thought of these additional ideas. These additional ideas and solutions to problems lead to more efficiency and increased profits.
- Better Employee Performance
Having an environment of inclusion and acceptance will lead to happier employees. Why are these employees happier? They feel more comfortable being themselves. They feel like it’s ok to be themselves. Happy employees are more productive and more willing to share ideas. You can’t change everybody’s mind on inclusion and acceptance but it starts with you as the leader.
- Reduced Employee Turnover
Happy employees are way less likely to leave the company even if they can find a higher paying job. Reduced employee turnover leaves you with more experienced employees. Experienced employees are a lot more productive and efficient than new employees. The more experience you can keep within an organization the stronger it will be.
- Improved Organizational Image
Although I don’t think you should foster an environment of diversity and inclusion just to look good, you should be doing it because it’s the right thing to do. It does have a positive impact on an organization’s image to welcome diversity in the workplace. Especially in the age of globalization, where business is conducted with many different countries. It can send a friendly message having many different types of people in various positions throughout the company.
- Increases Individual Insights
Not only does a diverse workplace benefit the company, but it also benefits society. Many relationships are built in the workplace. If the workplace is diverse and fosters an environment of inclusion these friendships will be with people that different than themselves. This environment will make everybody within the environment a lot more aware of different cultures and other differences. It shows everybody that being different isn’t a bad thing.
Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace
Of course, having a diverse workforce doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Although we would like everyone to be open and accept others, it’s not the case with everybody. There are individuals that will have difficulties with a diverse workplace due to their own biases. That’s where it’s extremely important for managers and organizations as a whole to not tolerate people that don’t foster an environment of inclusion.
When you get people that think differently together you may experience some friction. A little conflict can be healthy but when it starts to become excessive it’s up to the manager to help resolve the conflict and ensure it doesn’t get to an unhealthy level. As a manager, it’s up to you to create an environment where everyone’s opinions and ideas are valued and respected. This will help eliminate friction.
Tips to Create a Diverse Workplace
- Hire Diverse People
Diversity starts with hiring. Don’t limit yourself to hiring a specific type of person. Look for the best person for the job. Their religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other thing that makes them different doesn’t affect how well they will do the job in most cases.
There are some jobs where you do have a specific type of person in mind but those jobs are rare and you should still be careful about getting too specific in those instances. For example, there are many men that make great nurses and there are many women that make great heavy equipment operators. These jobs were considered gender-specific at one time but it turns out both genders are very capable in most cases.
- Forget Stereotypes
Stereotypes can be a killer when it comes to diversity. Clear stereotypes from your mind. People are all different and it’s just not fair to group a certain type of people because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other factor. Don’t judge them before you start to get to know them.
- Team Building
A great way to get your team working on the same page is through team building activities. These can be done in the office or out of the office. They are great for building trust within members of the team because employees must rely on each other to win the games. It also a great icebreaker because people have fun together and it builds that foundation making employees more comfortable with each other.
- Add Diversity to Company Website
Talk about how you and your company promote and welcome diversity on your company website. Many prospective employees will look into a company before accepting a job. They will see this and feel more welcomed. Also, this will show others that the company supports diversity in the workplace and will help boost the company’s image.
You also need to express that you welcome diverse applicants in your job postings. This will ensure you get applicants from all backgrounds and beliefs to apply.
- Avoid Using Quotas
Although quotas may seem like they are beneficial for companies, they can hurt diversity. You should never limit yourself to hiring a certain number of minorities. Hiring the right person for the job is a much better strategy. I’m a firm believer that you should hire the best person for the job no matter what their backgrounds or beliefs are.
- Recruit in Multiple Ways
If you recruit new employees using the same methods, you may get the same type of applicants each time. Use multiple forms of recruiting employees. You can use methods like advertising in the newspaper, advertising online on sites like Monster.com, Facebook Marketplace, or going through external job placement agencies just to name a few ways. Using multiple ways to recruit people will get many more eyes on your job postings and will lead to more diverse applicants.
- Encourage Refferals From Current Employees
Encourage your good employees to refer people to apply for your company. This works especially well if you already have a diverse workforce because typically the people that get referred by your current employees will be their friends and family. These referrals can help with the recruiting process because these prospective employees come with a known reference.
- Conduct Exit Interviews
You can get a ton of information that will help you make the organization better during an exit interview. People are a lot more willing to speak up about what they see wrong and what can be improved when they are on their way out the door. Use this time to find out how you and the company are doing on producing an environment of inclusion. As a leader, you need to go into an exit interview with an open mind and don’t take offense when somebody says you’re doing something wrong. Use it as an opportunity to grow and get better.
Wrapping it Up
Although a diverse workforce can have its own set of challenges, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Not only is it better for you and the company you work for but it’s also better for society. I hope this article has changed your question from “why is diversity in the workplace important” to “how can I make my workplace more diverse”.
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