In business communities, workplace diversity refers to the phenomenon when people of diverse backgrounds come together in an organization. In other words, a workplace with a high level of diversity is one where a large number of individuals from different backgrounds are working together to achieve common goals.
Workplace diversity is critically described as, “...a holistic concept that denotes the differences that exist between people working within an organization. It describes the complex physical, sociological or psychological attributes such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs that define an individual or group.”
Long gone are the “Mad Men” days of young and middle-aged white men in the office. Today, workplaces are full of a diverse group of employees, who each bring something worthwhile to their company.
Primary dimensions of diversity in organizations
- Gender (Sexual Orientation)
- Geographic location
- Education and Skills
- Work experience
Understanding the importance of workplace diversity
One of the reasons a workplace with a diverse workforce tends to be more productive and have better quality standards is that diverse people think uniquely. They have different opinions, tastes, preferences and values. For instance, in an organization mainly comprising younger employees, a middle-aged manager will bring a lot of experience and knowledge concerning work ethics that can benefit everyone in the company.
In other words, people from different backgrounds are likely to recognize some issues or challenges in their organizations, thus making them think from various angles to ensure the firms' progression.
In today’s connected world, it’s not uncommon to find a diverse workplace, with employees spread all over the globe. A diverse workplace offers the opportunity for different perspectives, beliefs, and values to work together to build a strong workplace with a caring and thoughtful culture.
Benefits of workplace diversity
1. Better productivity
Workplaces with better gender balance and a more cultural mix tend to be more productive than their counterparts, where people from similar backgrounds and ethnicities dominate. This can be attributed to the fact that people with different backgrounds bring new perspectives towards solving problems. They may also bring new ideas, approaches and solutions that can make the workplace more competitive.
2. Better quality of work
Cultural diversity in an organization takes us to another important benefit of workplace diversity - it makes way for better customer service. For instance, a mixture of people from different races or ethnicities among employees will enable a company to create products or offer services that target various customers worldwide. This is because cultural differences influence how we behave, think and speak with others. Having such a diverse workforce enables companies to effectively communicate with their clients globally.
Cultural diversity in an organization means better understanding of how people want their products or services delivered, translating into improved service quality. This indicates that workplaces with a high level of diversity have a competitive edge over the others.
3. Better decision-making
Workplaces with diverse workforce tend to make better policy and strategic decisions. This is because people from different backgrounds can give suggestions and solutions that are unlikely to come up where all employees share similar characteristics and mindsets. Diverse workers have different perceptions about organizational goals, challenges and performance standards. Those who are distinct from one another think differently, which results in better decisions in the long run.
4. Corporate wellness
Workplace diversity creates a healthy working environment and improves corporate wellness. This is because people with different backgrounds complement each other and help one another make sound decisions. This improves the organization's overall performance, employee confidence and reduces stress.
5. More creativity and innovation
A workplace with a high level of diversity is likely to generate more creative and innovative ideas. This means that such firms are highly competitive on the market, mainly because they have solid strategies and policies designed to address organizational goals. Such diversity brings multiple points of view in all areas of an organization, benefiting the organization tremendously in growth, profitability and performance.
6. Better client service
This benefit is another excellent reason to implement a workplace diversity strategy for organizations because people from different backgrounds can make such places desirable among clients. Clients always prefer interacting with people who can communicate smoothly and clearly, especially if they come from different cultures; hence, this makes it possible for organizations to attract a large number of clients from diverse backgrounds.
In addition to being more innovative and flexible, workplaces with a diverse workforce tend to provide better client services. This is because people from different cultural backgrounds have different values and practices that make them perform differently in the same position, making it possible for such businesses to serve their clients either locally or internationally. Doing this makes companies win big customers, thus increasing sales and profitability, which translates into increased organizational growth opportunities.
7. Reduced turnover rate
A workplace with a diverse workforce has better employee retention because the employees tend to be more committed and satisfied. This is because they have a sense of belongingness in the organization that makes them feel appreciated and secure, thus reducing the chances of leaving for other firms. A company that listens to its diverse workforce is a company that has employed loyal workers.
8. Improved company reputation
An organization with a diverse workforce has a better reputation. This is because they meet the needs of multiple clients than other firms with the same level of diversification. Such companies are also considered more innovative by their customers and the rest of the business community. This, in turn, helps them create a good image among new consumers, thus attracting more people to patronize their products or services.
Having employees share similar characteristics is out-of-date as we are now living in an ever-changing global market where people come from very diverse backgrounds. Having workplaces with diversified employees encourages better corporate wellness and ensures that business transactions are made smoothly and are more creative, thus leading to more profits for the company.