Why Is Diversity Important in the Workplace?
By Team 1AND1
Today’s companies are more diverse than ever: a result of decades of civil rights efforts, online and in-person activism, and shifting social opinions. But if you run a startup or head a team, you might wonder why diversity is important for company culture.
In truth, there are many practical and moral benefits to improving workplace diversity — it’s not just a PR stunt. Today, let’s take a look at those benefits one by one.
1. Comfortable Working Environment for POC/Minorities
A smaller but still important benefit of diversity in the workplace is the increased mental and emotional comfort you provide to People of Color (POC) or historically marginalized groups. Simply put, it can feel daunting, intimidating, and uncomfortable for a minority employee if they’re the only minority in the workplace, no matter how welcoming your work culture is or how nice one’s fellow employees are.
This discomfort can lead to lower work performance and productivity from your POC or minority workers, some of whom may be among the best on your staff. Constantly striving to improve workplace diversity and foster an inclusive environment can do wonders for making these cornerstone employees feel appreciated and comfortable — which is what you should strive for with all of your employees, of course.
2. Avoid Unconscious Bias
Furthermore, diversity is important in the workplace so that your company (and individual team members) avoid the consequences of unconscious bias. This bias can be political or practical.
For example, we’ve all had embarrassing moments where we’ve put our feet in our mouths. Accidents happen, but the last thing you want is a company executive or manager to say something insensitive or embarrassing. That can cause top talent to leave your company.
On the practical side of things, more diversity means you’ll be less likely to overlook potential problems with your products or services. Take the example of automobile manufacturers and crash test dummies:
- For the longest time, crash test supervisors were all men. They made crash test dummies based on male bodies and weights. All of their results — and the safety standards they recommended to auto manufacturers — were based on the assumption that people in cars were male.
- Of course, half of all drivers and automobile passengers are female! Thus, cars were made with improper safety standards for female individuals for a very long time, leading to more serious injuries and fatalities.
- Over time, the industry shifted, and more female crash test supervisors and workers were involved in the design and testing process. This led to safer cars for everyone.
As you can see, increasing diversity directly led to safer automobiles for the car industry overall. More diversity in your workplace can help your company avoid similar missteps (with potentially deadly or dangerous consequences).
3. More Talent for Your Staff
Diversity in the workplace provides further benefits for your company in the form of talented staff members. Any company, regardless of industry or niche, wants the best talent pool working for it instead of its competitors. Your business is the same!
But you won’t get the best talent for any open position if you limit your decision-making to one demographic or group of people. Talent can come from anywhere and from anyone. Therefore, you need to open your hiring process to anyone who meets your required minimum qualifications.
If your hiring board constantly brings on new employees who look the same or who come from the same culture, ask yourself why. Is it:
- Because unconscious hiring practice biases are affecting your company?
- Because your hiring team doesn’t know how to look for signs of success in other demographics?
If it’s either of those two reasons, take steps to correct the problem for a more inclusive workplace. Hiring diverse employees will ensure that your company is always staffed with the best of the best from different cultures.
4. Diversity of Thought — More Creative Solutions
For starters, diversity in the workplace is important because it allows your team to come up with more creative solutions for your customers.
Think of it this way; if you have an ideation or leadership team comprised of one group of people from one demographic, who will that team best serve? The answer: people like them.
Oftentimes, this isn’t entirely conscious or even intended. As humans, we tend to think that everyone sees the world and experiences problems just like us. But that’s not really the case.
If you have a more diverse leadership team with different backgrounds, for example, your team will:
- Come up with more creative products and services for target audience members
- Anticipate target audience member needs more accurately
- Not be left behind as the market shifts
Diversity means new ideas constantly flow in and out of your company, keeping your production fresh and agile. That’s more important than ever in the modern market. No matter your industry, you likely have to compete with several similar companies that produce similar products.
If you want your products to stand out and be trendsetters, you need diversity in your workforce. Diverse team members:
- Look at problems in novel ways
- Come up with new product ideas more often
- See how the market changes
Remember, diversity is about your team overall. It’s not about a single individual. During one quarter, one of your diverse team members might notice a problem or come up with a product idea. In the next quarter, it could be someone else. By cultivating diversity in any case, your leadership or ideation teams will be much more agile, innovative, and dominating in the market thanks to different perspectives.
5. Boosted Reputation
While many of the benefits of diversity in the workplace are tangible and practical, you can’t discount the reputational benefits, either!
These days, more consumers than ever before are choosing to shop at or patronize businesses that emphasize the importance of diversity. If you show that you can walk the walk and talk the talk, you’ll benefit from those customers and their revenue over time.
Plus, being known as a welcoming, diverse employer means you’ll benefit from passive reputational boosts. This can, in turn, improve your organization’s brand awareness and make you a more positive, impactful force in your chosen industry.
It’s free positive marketing, which is always something you should pursue.
6. More Cultural Awareness — Better Global Dealings
Additionally, diversity in the workplace can positively impact your international business dealings. If you sell to people around the world or have business partners in other countries, having a diverse workforce will better equip your leadership staff to:
- Make economically viable deals for both parties
- Speak to other company leaders or customers without making social mistakes
- Help you anticipate and serve the different market conditions in other countries compared to your own
People do business and shop differently in different parts of the world. For example, if you’re looking to expand into a new country’s market with a fresh marketing campaign, you’ll need a diverse workforce who knows how to market to that audience group.
It doesn’t make sense to market your products to people in China, for example, the same way that you market your products to people in America. Cultural forces are different and consumer tastes can be very different.
But a diverse workforce, especially if it incorporates diverse team members in leadership and marketing management positions, can anticipate the problems that might arise if you try to market to international customers the same way you market to domestic customers. More marketing effectiveness means more profits and a better company overall.
How To Cultivate Diversity in the Workplace
Given the many benefits of workplace diversity, it’s a good idea to start cultivating it ASAP. You can start pursuing a more diverse workforce using strategies like:
- Actively opening your hiring process to job seekers from underrepresented demographics or cultural backgrounds. You can be intentional about your hiring practices, seeking out a diverse set of candidates who can succeed in the position at hand.
- Working hard to increase diversity through workplace culture and social seminars or meetings.
- Implementing training sessions for employees to make sure your workplace is diverse and comfortable, not just one or the other.
- Actively elevating diverse team members to leadership positions to ensure top-down diversity improvements and employee retention.
Get Started With Promoting Workplace Diversity Today
Ultimately, diversity is practically, morally, and culturally important in the workplace. A more diverse workplace will not only help your company thrive in the modern market. It’ll also set you up for long-term success by attracting the best talent to your team.
That’s why 1AND1 Life is so intentional about creating an inclusive environment on our website, and at our company. To learn more ways to improve your work environment, read our article on workplace bullying, or pick up a few employment tips for Black men. And, if you’re a wellness professional who wants to work in a diverse environment, then be sure to check out our careers page.
Unconscious Bias Training | Office of Diversity and Outreach UCSF
Why Are There No Crash Test Dummies That Represent Average Women? | Discover Magazine