According to Forbes’ study, workforce diversity and inclusion has been identified as key drivers of internal innovation and business growth. This is especially true in today’s global marketplace, as companies interact with different cultures and clients. Here are some of the advantages and drawbacks of fostering diversity in the office.
1) Different point of views and skill sets
Individuals from diverse backgrounds can offer a selection of different talents, skills, experiences grant you an access to a larger pool of ideas which may be of benefit to the organisation and its performance.
Jessica Tan, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore stated, “At the heart of Microsoft, we believe that diversity enriches our performance and products, the communities where we live and work, and the lives of our employees.”
Coca-cola Company is also one of the organisations that embraces workplace diversity. The company shared in its press release: “We strive to create a work environment that provides all our associates equal access to information, development and opportunity. By building an inclusive workplace environment, we seek to leverage our global team of associates, which is rich in diverse people, talent and ideas.”
2) Creates innovation
By working alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences and working styles, creative concepts can be born from bouncing ideas off of each other and offering feedback and suggestions.
We all know that Apple is a successful and innovative organisation. Quoting the late Steve Jobs, “We strive to create a work environment that provides all our associates equal access to information, development and opportunity. By building an inclusive workplace environment, we seek to leverage our global team of associates, which is rich in diverse people, talent and ideas.”
3) Bigger market pool to capture
Language barriers and cultural differences can often act as obstacles for a company that wants to expand their business overseas; however by hiring employees who speak different languages it makes it possible for a company to work on a global basis and interact with a broader client-base.
Take Tesco, for an example – Its targeted marketing campaigns with strong messages of diversity and inclusion promoted the uptake of their products while they also introduced multicultural food ranges in different neighbourhoods to meet local customer food preferences.
4) Grows your talent pool
A company that embraces diversity will attract a wider range of job candidates, as it will be viewed as a more progressive organisation and will appeal to individuals from all walks of life.
Charlie Wood, Managing Director of Dropbox APAC noted that diversity is important because in order to get the best talent, retain and let them thrive, the company need to be have diverse workforce and the right environment.
Meanwhile, Slack, a cloud-based team collaboration tool startup is also gung-ho about workplace diversity. It divulged in its blog: “Everyone at Slack agrees that diversity and inclusion are important, but not everyone at Slack agrees about why. Some people here believe diverse teams produce better business results. Others see the issue in terms of social justice and addressing inequality of opportunity. And some just don’t want to work at a place where the population is overwhelmingly homogeneous. All are valid and important reasons. At the end of the day, the ‘why’ isn’t important when we all clearly agree on the ‘what’.”
All in all, by recognising and integrating a culturally diverse workforce into your establishment, your company will be much stronger. However, you also need to be aware of the challenges in having a diversity in the workplace.
Top Workplace Diversity Challenges
Perceptual, cultural and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork, and low morale.
Solution: Companies can first promote diversity in leadership positions and also encourage employees to express their ideas and opinions, while attributing a sense of equal value to all.
Resistance to change
There might be members of staff who will refuse to accept that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The “we’ve always done it this way” mentality shuts out new ideas and inhibits progress.
Solution: You can ward off change resistance with inclusion. Get every employee involved in formulating and executing diversity initiatives at your workplace. Other than that, you can also implement compulsory training to shape your diversity policy.
To conclude, diversity needs to be seen as an integral part of the business plan, essential to successful products and increased sales.
As what Stephen Richards Covey once said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”