Many of the most successful organizations in today’s business environment have learned that celebrating diversity makes good business sense. Diversity not only enriches work-life and opens new avenues for creativity but also enables companies to reach into new markets and tap previously overlooked sources for creativity, innovation, ideas–and profits.
Workplace diversity is an essential element of growth in organizations. Successful organizations find ways to tap into, understand and use diversity for unique insights and opportunities for creative problem-solving. Each difference that is valued adds to the richness of the business environment—the ability to see things from new perspectives, draw on varied sources of creativity and innovation, and ultimately create a competitive advantage for the organization. Here’s how managers at all levels can use diversity as strategic assets:
Acquire New Competencies for Building Inclusion
At its most basic level, diversity is simply variety. It means having a wide range of people who together make up a whole: people with different backgrounds and experiences; people from varying cultures; men and women; young and old; those born here or abroad.
Diversity and inclusion can make an organization stronger when differences are identified and used as a source of organizational strength rather than a cause for division or conflict.
Leveraging differences between groups within your organization, dealing with workplace bias when managing across cultural boundaries, structuring reward systems that promote equity for employees who are different from their managers, and communicating expectations clearly to everyone in the organization about how differences should be leveraged as strategic assets.
Enable Policies and Practices
Every company claims to value diversity in the workplace. Yet few seem to make it a strategic advantage. It is all too easy for managers and organizations to give lip service to inclusiveness and celebrate difference while maintaining a monoculture with many unconscious biases that work against achieving those aims. It’s even easier to claim that everyone is welcome at your firm without actually doing anything about it.
Therefore, enforcing policies and practices is integral to promoting the organization’s stance on workplace diversity. Leadership should establish rules, and the workforce should be made aware of the consequences of defiance. Efforts should be monitored through evaluations and performance reviews. Reward systems and recognition programs should also be developed.
Leverage a Diverse Workforce
Encourage employees to embrace and celebrate differences by recognizing the inherent differences that contribute to success. Build on those strengths and provide opportunities for growth that draw from them. Doing so can unlock untapped potential throughout your workforce. It can also enable better decision making, increase creativity and innovation, reduce conflict and negative emotions (instead of increasing them), improve collaboration between different parts of your business, boost performance (including profits) and engagement in the short term as well as retention long-term, and increase the appeal of your business to customers.
Enhance Value to a Diverse Marketplace
A diverse workforce provides leaders with a rich source of customer feedback from people from different regions and cultures. Therefore, a diverse workforce is better equipped to tap into a broader and more diverse marketplace.
Diversity leads to differences among individuals as well as within groups. Differences are important because they provide an organization offering goods or services in many ways to attract members of the public. Differences also offer various ways to improve productivity, product quality, marketing effectiveness, and even profitability.
Has your organization started its diversity journey? Let’s talk about it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.