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Diversity in the Workplace: What is It & Why is It Important?

diversity in the workplace

Last updated 06/09/21

Diversity in the workplace is a common conversation point for business leaders, HR teams and hiring managers. And yet, diversity and inclusion in a workplace shouldn’t just be a box-ticking exercise when hiring, but a vehicle that allows businesses to welcome a wider range of people, from diverse backgrounds to bring value to a business.

Having a diverse workforce lends itself to new ideas, new experiences and a significant learning opportunity for your people. These different ideas and perspectives can lead to better problem-solving and ultimately, a more productive and profitable workforce.

Research has found that 43% of companies with diverse management exhibited higher profits and those with racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to perform at a higher level and have increased ROI.

While 69% of executives believe that diversity and inclusion are among the most critical issues in the workplace, 57% of their employees believe there is more that can be done to increase diversity.

In this article, we take a look at what diversity in the workplace is, why it is important and the business benefits you can expect from having a diverse workforce.

What is diversity in the workplace?

Most understand what equality and diversity means in a day-to-day context, but what does diversity in the workplace mean?

Put simply, diversity in the workplace means a workforce made up of a diverse range of individuals. Diversity in terms of gender, race, ace, sexuality, language, background, education, skills, abilities and so on.

Importantly, diversity doesn’t just cover how a person looks or their ethnicity but spans personality, experiences, identity, hobbies, lifestyle and much more. What makes you different from your colleagues? Your employees are all individuals, each with something different to bring to the table.

Why is diversity in the workplace important?

Notwithstanding the significant statistics that demonstrate the business benefits of having a diverse workforce shared earlier in the article, diversity in the workplace can lead to a number of other, less tangible benefits such as increased employee satisfaction, enabling problem-solving and creativity and higher levels of employee engagement.

Diversity is a crucial part of culture that ensures the wellbeing and engagement of your entire workforce. Watch our free webinar discussing this topic here.

Diversity provides different perspectives

At the core of a diverse workplace is a wonderful variety of different perspectives. Each employee has a different outlook on the world, and as such, they bring a different viewpoint to discussions, projects and strategies.

What’s more, the more diverse your workforce, the more access your senior employees will have to different viewpoints and perspectives when devising and executing on a strategy.

Diversity allows for faster problem-solving

With these different perspectives, your employees will be able to problem-solve much faster. The Harvard Business Review found that more diverse teams were able to solve problems fast than people with similar cognitive abilities.

As a diverse team, employees can draw on their own experiences, generate ideas and use their skills to progress a project, overcome challenges and solve any problems. With employees bringing diverse resolutions to the table, decisions can be made swiftly and well-rounded solutions can be explored.

Diversity ignites employee growth

The more diverse your workforce, the more opportunity your people have to grow and develop as individuals. Being immersed in a diverse workplace can help your people to develop their own views and become more confident in their own unique talents, qualities and ideas.

Diversity improves employee engagement

The whole point of diversity is to include and value everyone, not just those in underrepresented groups of society. With all team members being recognised for the contribution they each bring to the business as an individual, they will feel far more empowered and confident in their own ability.

As a result, employee morale and satisfaction will likely improve in line with this, ultimately improving employee engagement.

Diversity improves your company’s reputation

With a view to improving transparency in their efforts towards diversity, companies that actively promote and monitor their workforce diversity efforts will likely be perceived more favourably in the market, making them more attractive to potential candidates and customers alike.

Diversity can play a huge part in attracting candidates and can help smaller companies to stand out against larger competitors.

Looking for more information on the benefits of diversity and inclusion? Check out our recent webinar with DEI Consultant, Kay Fabella who shared why diversity and inclusion are critical to the future of work. Or, take a look at our webinar on diversity and inclusion in talent management, and how to implement it.

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