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The Hidden Value Of Workplace Diversity

Posted by Paul O'Keefe on May 24, 2016 11:14:00 AM

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The American population is changing. The number of racial and ethnic minorities is growing. Women are considered a solid part of the workforce and their numbers in the workplace are increasing. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) individuals have always been in the workplace, but they’re now stepping forward and accepted as such. It's projected that minority populations are growing so quickly that by 2050 their combined numbers will constitute the majority, and there will be no single ethnic or racial majority in the United States. Further, 83% of the increase in the working-age population will be due to newly arriving immigrants and their children. With that in mind, it's critical for your organization to embrace diversity in order to stay relevant and competitive for the future.

Workplace Diversity Stimulates Overall Economic Growth

Research shows that a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) increases as the various minority groups, including ethnic and racial minorities and LGBT individuals, participate more in the workforce. One study shows that as more women enter the workforce, their presence positively affects the GDP.

FACT: Over the past 40 years, a 10% increase of women in the workforce (from 37% to 47%) has accounted for 25% of the GDP of the United States.

You may not consider the economic well-being of the nation important, but a strong economy sets the foundation for strong, resilient businesses.

Diversity in the Workplace Expands Your Company's Market Share

When it comes to market share, this is true: If you cast a wider net, you'll snag a larger catch. Increasing the diversity in an organization helps increase its market reach and, subsequently, its market share. Greater diversity and variety in your employees translates into a wider range of backgrounds and experiences that come to the company. Your organization can glean insight from its diverse employees for targeting a wider range of people and developing goods and services for all consumers. This, in turn, increases your company's market share.

Workplace Diversity Means a More Qualified, Globally Competitive Workforce

When a company decides to embrace cultural workplace diversity, it's simply good business. A workplace known for being inclusive and nondiscriminatory will bring in the greatest number of highly qualified applicants. The more applicants you can accept, the easier it is for you to find and choose the best and the brightest for your company.

Another way that a diverse workforce is an asset is in recruiting itself. In one survey, 66% of respondents stated that diversity in a company was a key factor in deciding whether to apply to that company or take a position with it. People prefer joining an organization that embraces diversity and often choose not to join one that they perceive is exclusionary or discriminatory.

Cultural Workforce Diversity Encourages Employee Loyalty

A company with inclusive, anti-discriminatory policies that are favorable to various groups has a lower turnover rate than companies that have potentially exclusionary or discriminatory policies and practices (even if they're not built that way on purpose). Exclusionary policies create a hostile work environment for the people in those excluded groups.

However, these policies don’t only affect the minority groups, they also adversely affect employees who are sympathetic to the groups or are simply open and inclusive. Excluded employees and those who are sympathetic to them range from feeling burdened by the discrimination to being completely disenchanted with their employer. They may even feel downright offended. To avoid these culminations, you should be proactive in creating an inclusive work environment and ensure your employees don't exit because of wrongful policies and practices.

Workplace Diversity Training

As stated by Neil Lanane of Progressive Insurance, a company lauded for fostering diversity, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude.” This is an important point that must be emphasized. It’s easy to unintentionally exclude people of different minority groups. A company must be intentional in its inclusiveness. An organization must deliberately pursue a wide range of talent and diligently strive to include them in the workplace. The organization must support helpful, educational internal programs and invest in resources to create a non-discriminatory, inclusive work environment. This is where workplace diversity training should start before making its way into every aspect of the organization. Employees must be trained in appropriate interaction, language and behavior. They also need to be trained in how to value workplace diversity in order to help the company thrive.

Diversity In Upper-Level Management Creates An Edge

Having a diverse senior management team leads to greater performance by the company. A McKinsey study of 180 companies from 2008 to 2010 found that those businesses in the top 25% in terms of having diversity in their executive teams also saw returns of equity (ROEs) that were 53% higher than companies in the bottom 25 percent. Further, the diverse companies saw margins on earnings that were 14% higher than the bottom 25 percent...

Do you want a greater profit margin? Then, infuse diversity into your upper-level management.

Cultural Workforce Diversity Increases Innovation And Creativity

Embracing different cultures adds a richness and variety to the work experience; it also offers a variety of perspectives which lend themselves to unusual ideas and innovative thinking. Yes, different ideas come from different groups because they perceive the world in varying ways; however, in bouncing ideas around, new ideas are hatched that are a product of collaboration and being forced to think in new ways. These novel ideas and ways of thinking are the root of enhanced innovation.

Have A Strategic Goal to Build Diversity into the Core of Your Organization

Do you have a strategic plan in place for incorporating diversity into the core of your company? Companies that have a strategic goal of increasing diversity in concrete, observable ways, such as setting hard targets for increasing the number of women or ethnic or racial minorities, perform better. One example is Adidas, which set hard targets for hiring women into management. Starting at 21%, its goal was 35% by 2015. Adidas has also promoted diversity in its design centers, which has led to many accolades for its product creativity. Adidas states that much of this is due to a dedicated push to diversify in ways that can be measured, such as hiring a set number of women.

As you examine your own organization, remember: In order to stay at the forefront of innovation, maximize your market share and increase your bottom line, diversity is essential. Your company must embrace cultural workplace diversity from the top down, and it must be intentional. Take time to create policies and practices that embrace diversity, develop policies that attract a range of diversified talent and institute quality workplace diversity training. This is best way to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population and ensure your organization's success in the future.

You may also be interested in these employee development posts:

To learn more about the benefits of employee development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.

Topics: Employee Development, leadership development, Employee management

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