Workplace diversity is an issue that has increasingly become a talking point in many businesses – particularly in human resources departments. Although some managers may feel legally compelled to create a diverse workforce, others may see the strategic benefits of having a broad range of types of employees.
Before we explain the term diversity, let us understand that diversity directly affects the workplace – and with increasing significance. The term diversity includes an understanding and acceptance of the fact that people have individual characteristics, which makes them unique from each other, particularly when comparing individuals in a group.
These characteristics may include race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political ideologies, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities or socioeconomic status. These characteristics also may include life experiences and cognitive approaches to problem-solving.
Creating a diverse workplace adds value to an organisation by allowing employees to approach their respective jobs from different perspectives, offering a more innovative and adaptable approach for the organisation. We are in an increasingly globalized world where the movement of labour is becoming more fluid, diversity is likely to increase and organisations that are likely to be successful are the ones that recognize the need for immediate action and are willing to invest resources in improving and managing workplace diversity.
Benefits of a diverse workplace
Increased adaptability: Consumers in a country like Nigeria hail from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Having a workforce that shows this diversity helps the company by making it more adaptable and capable of responding to changes in the market. A diverse workforce is better prepared to satisfy the demands of a diverse market through the innovation it can bring.
For instance, a male-dominated workplace would likely be less able to identify and attend to the needs of women than one which contained a significant proportion of women.
Better talent: Most companies known to hire from diverse groups can hire the best talent available because they are using a wider pool of talent than those who have a narrower scope of employment. Older members of the workforce can provide experience and a strong work ethic to the company, whilst younger members can bring youthful exuberance and a fresh perspective to the company’s business that may assist it in appealing to younger consumers.
Cultural advantages: Another advantage to having a diverse workforce is the ability to interact with a diverse customer base. Consider areas that are popular tourist destinations, such as amusement parks or resorts. These locations are typically staffed with individuals who speak multiple languages and understand many different cultures. Additionally, businesses looking to expand into new markets benefit from having employees with firsthand knowledge of those markets.
Increased creativity: As various cultures and backgrounds work together, the opportunity for increased creativity exists. This is because there are more people with differing perspectives and solutions to problems. This allows for a greater chance of a workable solution to a workplace problem.
Increased productivity: A diverse workplace allows for more ideas and processes. This diversity of talent means a broader range of skills among employees, and a diversity of experiences and perspectives. This increases the potential for increased productivity.
Increase in marketing opportunities: If potential employees or customers see that a company represents a diverse workplace, it makes them more attracted to the company. Using advertising that depicts mature-aged or ethnically diverse people encourages applicants to apply, promotes a positive reputation, increases marketplace awareness, and generates a more diverse client-base.
Achieving workplace diversity means you are bringing out the very best of your employees and allowing them to reach their full potential. By doing so, your workplace benefits as it encourages a more varied and innovative talent pool.