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Why Diversity in the Workplace is More Than Race

Big Think Edge | September 11, 2018

Diversity in the workplace is a powerful and critical differentiator for your business. Workplace diversity entails having employees with a variety of backgrounds who can provide different perspectives and bring with them unique life experiences that benefit your organization’s decision-making and problem solving processes.

But, what does a genuinely diverse workforce entail, and why is it so important and advantageous to your organization?

Breaking Down the Types of Diversity in the Workplace

While racial or ethnic diversity is a common focus of diversity training, there’s more to diversity than just this one component. A truly diverse workforce can mean different things to different people. However, one thing that’s for certain is that it’s more than strictly demographic data. Simply put, diversity can be broken down into a variety of categorizations, including:

In light of these different forms of diversity, it’s imperative for leadership and human resources personnel to create an inclusive environment that is welcoming to everyone. However, this is an area in which some companies excel and others struggle.

The Importance of All Types of People for Workplace Inclusion

While some people may emphasize one type of diversity over another, it’s important to recognize that they are all essential and matter. If your organization’s leadership emphasizes one type of diversity, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation, then they are missing out on workplace inclusion opportunities.

An inclusive workplace is one that makes employees feel appreciated, valued, and that they are a part of the larger picture. All of these things, along with other factors, can help to improve your organization’s reputation in the industry, which can benefit your company’s image and positively affect its bottom line.

The Benefits of Cultural Diversity in Business

Diversity in the workplace is a strong component of a company’s culture. Workplace diversity not only increases employee well-being, drive, and satisfaction, but it also makes the workplace more inviting to new and current employees. Part of the importance of workplace diversity is that it promotes workplace inclusion, which can lead to increased empathy and understanding of others’ viewpoints while contributing to greater collaboration.

According to an article in Fortune:

“Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have returns above national industry medians, SAP chief diversity and inclusion officer Anka Wittenburg wrote in a piece for Fortune, quoting a McKinsey study. She also pointed to a study from Bersin by Deloitte that found over a 3-year period, diverse companies see 2.3 times the cash flow per employee when compared to their less diverse peers.”

Big Think expert and management guru Jennifer Brown says that there are now considerable overlaps between the demographics of your employees and your customers — so much so, that your employees should be considered your customer base. Because there is more transparency between employees and customers (which can include the employees who are customers themselves as well as your external market), companies with workplace diversity training are more appealing to customers.

In her Big Think Edge Diversity Training masterclass, Brown says:

“Everything you do as a leader matters and is watched by groups of employees — by all employees. They’re watching to see, ‘Do you respect me? Do you understand me? And, have you earned my buying power and my discretionary spend?’”

Regardless of how beneficial workplace diversity is to the effectiveness of organizations of all sizes and industries, it can be challenging to integrate and frequently requires specific considerations and incorporation methods.

Big Think Edge is a global provider that delivers video-driven development solutions through learning programs on a variety of topics that feature world-class experts. To learn more about integrating effective training to contribute to increased diversity in the workplace, check out our Diversity & Inclusion virtual course by clicking on the link below.

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