Why workplace diversity means better business

Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Why workplace diversity means better business

A diverse workplace tends to improve productivity and business performance, according to a white paper from Thomas International.

The paper pulls together pertinent research from around the world on the impact workplace diversity has on organisations.

It shows that more companies are embarking on diversity programs, not just to gain the moral high ground, but also to improve their bottom line in increasingly competitive markets.

Globally, HR and psychology literature is focusing more and more on the impact that workplace diversity can have, both on employee wellbeing and productivity, as well as on a company’s profits.

“One of the main reasons workplace diversity is so important stems from the moral argument that every individual should have the opportunity to be the best they can be,” said Garth Crossley, Sales Manager for Thomas International Australia.

“Research has shown that workplace diversity has the ability to engender feelings of belonging in a staff complement, and can lead to more innovation, driving better decision-making and making teams more productive.”

Crossley highlights five reasons why improving diversity in the workplace can have a positive effect on both morale and that all-important bottom line:

1. Acquisition of new skills and innovation

Diversity helps to introduce staff with unique skills into a workforce. Global research has also shown that 85% of senior executives feel diversity is critical in driving innovation because of the different perspectives it brings to a team.

2. Better decision-making

In one research study included in the white paper, it was found that diversity led to an increase in scrutiny and, ultimately, better decision-making and performance on a specific task or challenge. Cognitive functioning and attitudes vary with demographics, so a more diverse team can be better equipped to deal with unforeseen challenges.

3. Personality pluses

A more diverse workplace is one in which there is interplay between demographics and personality, according to the white paper. As early as the 1950s it was found that groups of people with diverse character traits were better at solving problems.

4. Employee and client satisfaction

Demographics of both the general and working population have significantly shifted, giving rise to a desire for more diversity in the workplace and a need to attract staff with unique skills. In the UK, 80% of staff joining a new workforce stated their employer’s diversity and inclusion policy was an important factor in whether they chose to join the company. Two-thirds of the employers in the research felt that a diverse workforce was required to better serve their diverse customer base.

5. Financial gains

Companies possessing a more diverse workforce (both in terms of gender and ethnicity) are more likely to outperform less diverse competitors, according to the research. Financial benefits from diversity come from the varied approaches and perspectives which in turn lead to more ideas and innovation, leading to better decision-making, more complex thinking and increased ability to deal with unforeseen challenges. Research has also shown a direct correlation between gender diversity and significant improvement in earnings before interest and tax. Companies ranking highly for gender diversity performed 16% better, and those with greater ethnic diversity performed 35% better than lower ranking organisations.

These findings highlight the need for organisations to rethink workplace diversity and the important role diversity and inclusion policies have on business growth.

“There are many practical changes organisations can make to improve workplace diversity. Thomas International is experienced in evaluating recruitment processes to isolate any sources of unconscious bias and potential adverse impact, and can assist organisations in compiling comprehensive diversity and inclusion policies which are tailored to suit anticipated growth trajectories,” said Crossley.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/william87

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