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How a Diverse Workforce Positively Impacts Company Success


Cultural diversity in the workplace has become something of a business buzzword given increased discussions about representation and inclusion. But as companies hire more employees from varying backgrounds, races, religions and cultures, business leaders are discovering that a culturally diverse work environment positively impacts our society's overall fabric and a company's success as a whole.

The key to establishing a work culture that celebrates heterogeneity is intentional action. Without doing the work, cultural diversity becomes another trendy expression that companies stamp on their profile as a public performance.

However, establishing a diverse workplace is about hard work, compassion and the questioning of norms. That said, some challenges come with establishing diversity in the workplace, including:

  • Moving from concept to reality: A carefully thought-out diversity and inclusion program will remain an idea without the right people in place to carry out necessary actions. However, it takes leadership buy-in to implement a workplace program of this nature. Then, implementing executive-level diversity efforts in the real lives of employees takes consistency and companywide involvement.
  • Overcoming bias and resistance: Sometimes, securing leadership buy-in is met with opposition. For many, the concept of cultural diversity in the workplace is unfamiliar and can be uncomfortable. Most humans make decisions based on pre-existing preferences and beliefs they have internalized over time. It is essential for business leaders to challenge their staff's existing biases and cultivate understanding for groups that are underrepresented in the workplace.
  • Incorporating diversity and inclusion sensitivity training: One way to cultivate understanding is through in-depth training that requires co-operation from everyone in the company. This training helps employees from top to bottom understand the diversity goals, their importance in achieving these organizational goals and employees' expectations.

While it may be easier to boost hiring diversity and call it a day, the reward of truly investing in a culturally diverse workplace can provide enduring company success. This is especially true in today's era of globalization — defined as the spread of technology, information and commerce across borders and cultures.    

Diversity in the workplace not only gives equal voice and opportunity to people of various cultures, but it can hugely improve an organization as well. Here are some benefits to having a diverse workplace:

  • Wider cultural perspective: Employees diverse in thought, background, race and religion can bring new perspective and insight to brands and businesses. Cultural perspective is also crucial for the longevity of companies that function globally and actively improves the collective problem-solving and decision-making abilities of a company. Research shows a 60% improvement in decision-making skills for diverse teams.
  • More innovation: Heterogenous groups spark fresh ideas thanks to the range of experiences, knowledge and ways of thinking. In fact, a study from The Hamilton Project shows the positive effects on companies' innovation efforts from hiring non-local employees. In the United States, individuals from other countries and areas are more likely to work in STEM fields and hold more advanced degrees than American-born workers. This group also makes up 28% of individuals who hold high-quality patents and are more likely to become Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine.
  • Increased employee productivity and engagement: When employees are represented and perceive their cultures, religions and races as respected, they are more likely to feel welcomed. When employees feel comfortable being themselves in their work environment, ultimately, they are more engaged and productive.
  • Enhanced company profits: Higher productivity yields a higher profit. McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting company, studied diversity in the workplace across a range of industries in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Latin America. The results revealed that companies in the "top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians."
  • Broader talent pool: Eighty-six percent of job seekers rank workplace diversity at the top of their priority list. Companies with an intentional diversity and inclusion program in place tend to attract the best talent. On the other side, companies actively pursuing diversity in hiring will have access to a wider pick of educated professionals. It is a win for all.

Organizations that invest in workplace diversity and inclusion can create more than just an applauded public reputation. Though a culturally diverse workspace requires intentional thought and implementation, it yields positive results that mean empathy for all workers and tangible, long-term success for the organization.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Management online program.


Sources:

Cision PR Newswire: Over 86% of Job Seekers Say Workplace Diversity Is an Important Factor When Looking for a Job

Culture Amp: Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

McKinsey & Company: Why Diversity Matters

People Management: Diversity Drives Better Decisions

The Hamilton Project: High-Skilled Immigration Increases Innovation


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