If you’ve ever seen an ad campaign and thought, “How on earth did this get the green light?” then you’ve probably spotted an issue within the organization: lack of diversity. That’s not to say every questionable commercial, ad, product, or service hails from a largely homogenous company. However, with diversity still being a significant issue in the workplace, a lack of perspective is likely in play.
Diversity in the workplace refers to an organization that intentionally employs a workforce comprised of individuals of varying gender, religion, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, and other attributes. This diversity is beneficial in several ways, both externally and internally. Not only does it give you access to a broader range of talent, but it also helps provide insight into the needs and motivations of all your client or customer base, rather than just a tiny part of it.
And yet, despite its many benefits, achieving diversity in the workplace proves more difficult than anticipated. Many people are resistant to change, whether consciously or unconsciously, and tackling these biases is a multifaceted challenge. Moreover, when organizational decision-making processes follow the way things have always been done, we can find ourselves in the same situations over and over again.
In 2021, we can no longer feign ignorance of just how important diversity is. If success is what you’re seeking and you still lack diversity within your company, here are just some of the many reasons to make some changes in your hiring and promoting processes.
In 2016, Millennials became the largest generation in the United States labor force. And now that Gen Z has entered into the space, employers must make some new considerations and changes. Employees are looking for jobs that allow growth, and as a result, they are seeking roles with more progressive companies. When you open the door for more diversity, you attract talent that would otherwise pass up on the role.
Diverse companies are more likely to attract the best talent, and employee morale and overall happiness are more likely to improve. This inclusion fosters positive behaviors at work, such as collaboration and relationship-building. People are more likely to feel both seen and heard and are more comfortable being themselves.
While it’s okay to be selective about who you hire, being overly picky about traits that don’t matter will significantly decrease the number of people you can even consider. That’s why embracing diversity in background, thought, ethnicity, and other factors are key to finding good hires.
Circling back to the point made about tone-deaf ad campaigns, services, etc., the last thing you want is to create internal tension or receive backlash for not understanding your customer or client needs, nor the needs of your own team. But when your team is comprised of people from various backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures, you are far less likely to find yourself in a situation you can’t easily fix. Social media can make or break your company, and a viral smear against you can be devastating to any potential success.
Bringing new perspectives into your company can feel intimidating; no one likes to hear they’re wrong or out of touch. But research shows that diverse teams see a 60% improvement in decision-making abilities. The study analyzed around 600 business decisions made by 200 teams, across a range of companies. When diverse teams of three or more people made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time. Diverse teams were also shown to make decisions faster and more efficiently.
The members of a homogenous team likely have similar ways of working and thinking. For example, a team of all middle-aged white men with similar backgrounds may find “thinking outside the box” a challenge when all of the men have had similar experiences in their lives and careers. That sameness doesn’t lead to creative solutions or new and innovative ideas.
But a team comprised of people from various cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds will be able to offer unique perspectives that can lead to breakthroughs. A recent study found that companies that score well on indicators of diversity tend to be demonstrably more innovative.
Culture plays a heavy role in what drives a company to success. A homogeneous environment can stifle natural cognitive diversity due to the pressure for everyone to conform to one mold. This type of culture not only builds resentment, it hinders your company’s ability to move forward. But when you create a work environment where employees see a representation of a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, they’re more likely to feel comfortable and feel included. Simply put: happy employees are productive employees. Your team members will feel more inspired to work together on projects and are more likely to speak up and ask for help when needed.