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Diversity is the Superhero with an Invisible Cape For businesses, diversity is all pervasive and it matters

By Suman Reddy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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It is a business tool that creates robust strategic advantages. Today, it is much more than compliance. The era of "check in the box' human resource initiatives is gone. It is a cultural shift in organizations that goes beyond personnel count or issuing statements on inclusive practices. Diversity has slowly made its way as a boardroom conversation in hiring diverse talent and creating inclusive business practices that foster belonging and positive employee experiences.

However, a lot of enterprises are struggling with these initiatives. These are usually half baked, poorly funded tactical inclusion initiatives disconnected from larger, more substantial and well-funded general corporate goals which don't serve the purpose. The initiatives are mostly well-meaning but are misguided in their approach. Curating an effective diversity and inclusion strategy requires strong, sustained and inclusive leadership which substantially augments stronger business performance.

There are some amazing benefits of diversity and inclusion at work to understand why it has become a boardroom priority.

Diverse Teams Translate to Competitive Business Advantage

There are multifarious ways in which diversity must go beyond gender to include the LGBTQ+ community and employees from different generations, among others. This can be a prime differentiator among companies. That's because inclusion of different backgrounds and cultures in a workforce ushers contribution of different perspectives, drives natural ideation and improves decision-making. Ultimately, it develops better solutions, drives robust product-builds and generates greater business results. When more women are present in line roles that directly correlate to financial performance, companies have experienced above-average financial results. That was also corroborated in a recent report by McKinsey. Employees from more homogenous backgrounds would be restricted to a small "idea pool', as opposed to higher returns on investment that diversity can deliver.

Diverse Teams Help Organizations Grow Globally

Organizations work with global customers and vendors and it is imperative to scale up as an organization grows with employees who are well-versed in different languages, cultures and market scenarios. A diverse team of employees, with unique cultural backgrounds, helps to meet diverse cultural challenges to satisfy clients from other countries and aids in strategic growth plans.

Diversity Aids Customer Service

Personalization in customer service is extremely crucial. Good customer service is about building and sustaining strong personal connections between employees and customers. A diverse team helps form stronger, more authentic relationships with a broader range of customers, allowing organizations to outperform competitors in the long term. Customers prefer people who understand their issues and can offer solutions unique to them. By having a diverse team, an enterprise is more likely to have employees who can empathize with their customers and offer better and more tailored solutions.

Diversity Amps up the Digital Quotient

Having been brought up in the digital age, the influx of millennial employees tends to be more tech-savvy with a remarkable ability to multitask. This Instagram and Snapchat-savvy generation organization adds newer dimensions. Digital natives are the biggest asset in navigating technology shifts and can utilize the data they generate to mine insights to drive the business. As the pace of technology innovation accelerates, technology infrastructure needs to facilitate and acclimatize towards new behaviors in social, Web and user experience, constant innovation, continuous mobility, and complete globalization. We are even witnessing the digital-first mindset of customers permeate the workplace and this requires information technology and business leaders to embark on a workforce transformation strategy and provide employees with devices and software that enhance their efficiency. In order to stay ahead in this digital era, it is critical that organizations view their digitally savvy workforce as part of its overall digital transformation strategy.

I believe businesses must move their models towards a more inclusive workforce which is more innovative, better understands its customers and outperforms the competition. The road to effective diversity in the workplace can start at any level and can lead to a more inclusive environment with happier and more productive employees. Evaluating progress must always be an ongoing process, with companies re-visiting their intentions, strategies and evolving challenges and taking action to enhance their outcome.

Suman Reddy

Managing Director of Pegasystems India

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