So many tried to define diversity, but what is it, really? What makes it so important, and why do organizations need a diverse workplace so much to ascend to their highest level of performance?
In this article, we’ll answer these pressing questions and unpack everything you need to know about workplace diversity.
The True Definition of Workplace Diversity
One of the most common definitions of diversity refers to working with people that originate from various social and ethnic backgrounds. They are of different ages, gender, religion, culture, race, sexual orientations, and have traits that make them unique.
But that’s just one side of the coin.
We believe that workplace diversity is the sum of the protected characteristics (gender, age, religion, etc) and distinctive talents, visions, skills, experiences, personalities, and opinions. Combined, these create an unstoppable force with the same goals and visions. As a result, these characteristics enable companies to outperform their peers on every level.
As author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek rightly points out in one of his speeches about diversity, “when we come together with a common cause or a shared vision, our view broadens and we’re able to recognize things that we never could’ve seen on our own. That’s why the best companies are diverse: they have diverse thinking.
Why Is Workplace Diversity Important
Now more than ever, the world as we know it is changing and shaping into something new. Something better, we would say. And diversity is a significant part of it. Therefore, if companies want to stay ahead of the competition, they must adapt. But why, you ask?
There are several rewarding benefits of a diverse workforce. For example, diversity:
- Makes groups more creative and smarter
- Enables groups to connect the dots in different ways, because there are so many minds with unique ways of thinking.
- Gives access to a greater range of aptitudes and abilities
- Facilitates productivity
- Contributes to understanding the audiences you’re trying to reach
- Empowers your organization to be efficient and innovative, which results in a higher financial outcome.
Now that you put together all the information about diversity and learned why it’s so important, you must be wondering: Where do I start? Fret not! We’re here with some of our best advice.
The Starter Kit to Implement Diversity in Your Company
There is no right or wrong when it comes to diversity. Every organization is unique, therefore has individual ways to implement it.
However, there are a few critical elements everyone should consider.
Find Your “WHY”
By “WHY” we mean what’s your purpose, what is your belief, why does your organization exist, why would your clients or top talent choose you? But most importantly, why would your employees care and how is this WHY aligned with your mission and values?
Find your “WHY” and let it be your guiding compass in all your decisions. Because most often, people buy the reason you do this rather than what you do.
Make Diversity an Openly Discussed Subject
One of the things holding companies back is that only a handful of people talk about diversity. Usually, it’s the HR team or people who are affected directly by its absence.
Our hunch is that most people are unaware of this problem or are afraid to be seen as racist or discriminatory. And this sort of inability to talk about diversity actually contributes to the issue. Discussing it openly with your employees, however, will create a secure environment where everyone is comfortable talking about it.
Take, for example, public speaking. The more you practice it, the better you become at it. Because doing it again and again, helps you become more familiar with the task and improve over time. And at some point, you realize public speaking doesn’t seem difficult anymore. Ultimately, it becomes just a normal activity. But more than that — a skill worth possessing.
Don’t make the subject of diversity just politically correct. Understand and celebrate it, not just tolerate it.
Shape Your Strategy So That It Synergizes with Your Values and Needs
Many companies fail to design their diversity plan in balance with organizational goals. And this can hold them back.
As Seth Godin wrote in one of his articles about business self-conception: The mirror might not lie, but no one looks at you in the mirror more than you do.
And that’s the truth in its finest form.
Better than anyone, you are aware of what you do best—you know your assets, flaws, values, pain points, and needs. Use that when planning your journey to building a more diverse workplace.
Never “copy” and “paste” a predefined strategy and hope it will work. After all, everyone is unique, including you as a company. And shaping your diversity plan accordingly will only lead to promising results.
Involve Everyone and Share the Responsibility
Diversity should not just be on your HR department’s agenda. It is everyone’s responsibility. And by everyone, we mean every person in the organization.
Encourage leaders to find time to present as many times as possible that diversity is positive and effective. And then involve everyone in the conversation.
It’s vital to discuss the subject and go beyond the traditional training and conferences. Otherwise, your employees will perceive it like something enforced, which eventually will have the reverse outcome and end up feeding tokenism.
Make Certain Your Plans Reach the Right People
Without the people who have the means, tools, and capabilities to carry out your workplace diversity initiatives, a perfectly designed plan might just be in vain.
Ensure your plans get to the right individuals, who not only share the same vision and goals but also have the power to change something.
Transform Your Diversity Initiatives into Reality
Implementing workplace diversity takes time and effort. There is no mysterious remedy to make it happen overnight. However, finding the right reasons, designing your plan, and being consistent will undoubtedly show results.
Don’t hesitate to seek external help. Investing in your employees to support their growth and understanding of diversity and its complexity, will create the aperture that your employees need to appreciate and embrace diversity. A decision, as simple as this, can transform your company’s future and create a competitive advantage.
We, at The Marlo Companies, understand how challenging this process could be. As such, we approach each client individually and build each program specifically to your needs.
Contact us now and let’s start your journey towards adopting diversity!