The Myriad Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
Consider five ways that recruiting people from different backgrounds can provide your company a competitive advantage.
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In the age of technology, the world has become smaller. Smartphones and other mobile devices make it possible to interact with customers, vendors or employees on the other side of the world anytime of day or night. As businesses and individual communities have become more globalized, most companies are operating within a diverse marketplace.
You may be doing business with customers and vendors around the world, but even if you're not, chances are that the demographics in your neighborhood are also becoming more diverse.
Related: Diversity Defines Our Global Economy. Do You Speak the Language?
That's why it's more important than ever before to build a diverse staff for your business: Recruiting and retaining a diverse, inclusive group of employees lets your company reflect the world around you and makes your team better able to develop fresh ideas that will meet the needs of the whole marketplace.
To be profitable in a diverse, globalized marketplace, savvy companies are making efforts to look more like the community around them. If you employ only those who identify with a small portion of the market, you just don't have access to the insights, experiences and worldviews of the full marketplace.
When planning to expand your staff, make an effort to recruit a diverse set of employees to help your company. Here are five key benefits of diversity in today's workplaces:
1. Drive innovation.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin identified and highlighted companies with what they called "two-dimensional diversity." The leaders of these businesses had at least three inherent diversity traits and three acquired ones (culled from experience).
"Working in another country can help you appreciate cultural differences, for example, while selling to female consumers can give you gender smarts," the authors wrote.
Using new research, Hewlett and her co-authors found that these firms performed better in business, explaining, "By correlating diversity in leadership with market outcomes as reported by respondents, we learned that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform others."
2. Increase creativity.
Teams that include workers from different backgrounds and experiences can come up with more creative ideas and methods of solving problems.
"The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives," according to research by Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua. "Importantly, these ideas do not necessarily come from the network members who are culturally different from you."
Related: How to Leverage Boardroom Diversity for Greater Success
3. Make recruitment easier.
Competition is fierce for the most talented workers. Research indicates that diversity can help you recruit top talent. In a recent Glassdoor survey, two-thirds of the people polled said that diversity was important to them when evaluating companies and job offers.
No matter whom you're recruiting a position, the data says they're likely to welcome joinining a diverse workforce. In addition, if you make an effort to recruit a wide variety of candidates -- not just those who went to the local college or who match the ethnicity of the rest of your staff -- your company is more likely to hire the best and the brightest in the labor market.
Talent is vital to improving the bottom line in an increasingly competitive economy, so you'll do your company a favor by selecting employees from the largest and most diverse set of candidates. And with a diverse workforce, your candidates will be more likely to accept your job offers. It's a beneficial cycle.
4. Avoid high turnover.
According to the Labor Department, more people are quitting their jobs now than they have since 2008, meaning retention should be top of mind for managers. The Glassdoor survey found that 57 percent of people surveyed think their company should be doing more to increase diversity in its workforce.
Most business owners know that when an employee leaves, finding and hiring a replacement can be an extremely expensive process. In many cases, a lack of diversity can create an unintentionally hostile environment for those who feel like they don't fit in.
With the current job market bouncing back, many people are now considering their options in a way they haven't in six years. Rather than dealing with turnover rates that could become increasingly high as communities become more inclusive, make a commitment to creating a diverse and discrimination-free work environment at your company.
Successful companies create internal programs, resources and networking groups after listening to employees and supporting efforts they're interested in. This not only supports diversity but has the added benefit of creating a tighter, more invested community among the workforce.
5. Capture more of the market.
When your workplace is home to a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds and experiences, your company can more effectively market to all groups of consumers, from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, men and women, older and younger adults and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Building a diverse workplace can help you increase your company's market share.