The Importance Of Diversity In The Workplace

13 Sep 2021

Gone are the days when organisations led by – and chiefly consisting of – homogenous groups could succeed by marketing and selling products or services to similar homogenous groups and demographics. 

There have been monumental shifts in global society and the economic landscape in the past 30 years – and the pace of change in the past 15 years has been prodigious. 

Businesses can only survive and thrive in today’s fragmented marketplace if they truly understand their variegated audiences and their needs. 

And, to do that, they need the kind of divergent outlook, insight and market-led innovation that can only be achieved by having real diversity in the workplace. 

Read on to learn more…

How Diversity And Inclusion Impacts Revenue And Profits

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • A now famous study by data giants McKinsey & Company concluded that companies with a higher number of racial and ethnically diverse employees outperformed their competitors by 35%
  • 43% of companies with diverse boards enjoy higher profits 
  • Highly gender-diverse executive teams are 21% more profitable than their less diverse competitors 

The Need For Greater Diversity And Inclusion Is Increasing

Companies which try to put the handbrake on greater organisational diversity and discussions around inclusivity are fighting a losing battle – and certainly damaging their future prospects.

If we look at the USA as a test case, it’s believed that groups traditionally perceived to be ‘minorities’ will actually reach majority status by 2044. 

Furthermore, the much-maligned ‘millennials’ – 44% of whom identify as non-caucasian – will make up more than three-quarters of the US workforce in the next few years.  

So, businesses that persist with targeting traditional demographics with their products and services will be marketing and selling to an ever-decreasing market.

Diversity In The Workplace

And companies that perpetuate classic ‘white men in suits’ cultures will seriously struggle to appeal to, recruit and retain a massive chunk of the labour market. 

To look at things another way, inclusive companies are 120% more likely to hith their financial goals. Why? Because, when people feel included and engaged at work, they will be more inclined to collaborate and perform to much higher levels. 

Make people feel like they’re not included or welcome to contribute new ideas, and the likelihood is that they will be disengaged and under-perform. Which also means that you’ll be missing out on opportunities to learn more about new, emerging markets and their needs – and how to satisfy them through innovative products or services.

We All Have Something To Learn

Where would your organisation be if everyone in it thought in the same uniform ways? 

Chances are that it would be very stagnant and constantly looking over its shoulder at innovative, ideas-led competition rapidly approaching from behind. 

Having a healthy variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures provides companies with the great balance of voices and diversity of thought that businesses need to keep up with the changing needs of increasingly demanding customers or prospects. 

Increased Innovation

There will be an increase in innovative and creative ideas if you have teams made up of people with different backgrounds, experience, skills and knowledge. 

Recent history tells us that even huge global brands which fail to innovate and properly prepare for the future can be obliterated by changing market needs. 

Benefits Of Diversity

The best strategy for satisfying the needs of diverse markets is to have people on board who can offer new ways of thinking and real-life insights that are beyond the experience and scope of leadership teams or departments filled with people who have ‘always done things the same way’.

Furthermore, the more that people from diverse backgrounds feel that they have a voice and are being listened to, the more willing they will be to come forward and offer their input.

How To Build A More Diverse And Inclusive Culture 

Your attitude may be that everyone that comes into your workplace should automatically be 100% motivated at all times. But, come on, that’s just fanciful.

When companies foster a more inclusive work environment and culture, a whopping 83% of millennials are found to be actively engaged in their work. And let’s not forget that the vast majority of your workforce will be millennials in a few years’ time – and that 44% of this substantial group classify themselves as belonging outside traditional demographics. 

So, how do you go about developing a motivated and engaged current and future workforce?

McKinsey & Co discovered five key methods for successfully developing future-proofed company cultures when analysing 1,000+ market leaders for their groundbreaking diversity and inclusivity in business survey:

1. Representation And Inclusion Of Diverse Talent

There should be diverse representation at all levels of your company. 

But it’s not enough to just recruit diverse talent – in order to retain and get the best out of diverse groups, you need to keep them engaged and feeling included.

2. Leaders Must Be At The Forefront 

Company leaders should be leading the charge when trying to foster more inclusive and higher performing cultures. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that true inclusivity can be achieved by HR-led initiatives and perky internal comms: it needs to feel like it’s coming from the top-down to seem real.

3. Equal Chances

Create a level playing field by ensuring that employees from diverse backgrounds are given equal opportunities for promotion and advancement.

This isn’t about quotas and positive discrimination. It’s about giving under-represented people a fair chance.

4. Tackle Discrimination

Companies should create and uphold a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discriminatory behaviour. 

Organisations should actively help managers and staff identify and address microaggressions that might not be immediately obvious to certain elements of your workforce.

5. Bring Everybody Together As One!

Togetherness and belonging are critical to successful working environments. 

By creating a culture that everyone feels part of and able to contribute to, you will massively increase engagement and performance levels – and, in turn, productivity and profitability. 

Lead The Way!

The arguments for developing more diverse workforces and inclusive organisational cultures are overwhelming.

Diversity has been proven time and time again to generate higher levels of success.

Workplace Diversity

And yet too many companies remain hesitant to make the necessary changes and improve behavioural governance around inclusivity. 

For instance, Black and Ethnic minorities in the UK only hold 8% of executive roles despite accounting for 22% of the country’s university graduates. 

Further, women in the UK only hold 15% of all executive jobs, despite the proven benefits of having more gender-diverse leadership teams.

Now’s the time to make your stamp and champion diversity in your company and industry. 

Embedding inclusive values into the culture of your business will fundamentally bring a positive top-down change that will undoubtedly be reflected in higher performance and likelihood of long-term success.

Want to learn more about how you can develop a more diverse and inclusive organisation through improved behavioural governance? 

And develop a high performing culture full of happy and engaged people?

Then please get in touch with our behavioural governance implementation experts via our contact form or give us a call on +44 (0) 1325 734 846 today!

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