We have all heard about the importance of workplace diversity. As American culture seeks to move away from the classic all white male staffing roster, there has been an obvious shift in how chief officers are running their companies. Their challenge has been to allow all people to feel comfortable and accepted in their workplace. With this new initiative, people from all genders, cultures, ethnicities, and sexualities now feel they can be themselves at work. There are several benefits in terms of production for diversifying your workplace.
- The McKinsey & Company published a study in 2015 which claimed “[c]ompanies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns” in comparison to those “in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies.”
- The Harvard Business Review took their study a step further and, in 2017, they concluded that a diverse workplace must consider more than outward appearance, sexuality, or gender. They argued that the aspect that truly makes one company diverse and not another is its amount of “cognitive”
- Cognitive diversity is the difference between one’s way of thinking or problem solving being different from that of another. Employers who are not intentionally searching for cognitive diversity, tend to hire those who look and think as they do. Harvard Business Review asserts that “[a]s a result, organizations often end up with like-minded teams. When this happens…we have what psychologists call functional bias — and low cognitive diversity.”
Why All of This Is Important:
When we have different ways of thinking, we have different ways of problem solving. A black woman who was raised in New York City may have a different strategy on how to advertise toward a specific market than a white man who has lived in North Dakota his entire life. A twenty-year-old transgender man may have a unique way of solving an HR issue in comparison to a fifty-year-old straight woman. Neither opinion is less valuable, but by taking both into account, companies increase the probability that their message will connect with their audience.
Making your office feel inclusive is not only a way to be a good boss, but it also attracts talent from all different walks of life. If we continue to hire people who look and think exactly like we do, our companies will not progress with the same velocity as those who took the time to ask: “Well, what are your ideas?”
What Can You Do to Help:
One way to ensure that a healthy, safe workplace environment is achieved is through enforcing rules on discriminatory behavior, according to Josh Bersin, president of a leading industry research and advisory firm in enterprise learning and talent management. If the rule is in a handbook, make sure that it is enforced and rewarded accordingly at every level. Without this structure, companies will have a difficult time achieving their goals.
Now, there are very intentional steps employers can take to diversify their workplace. These steps begin with changing the atmosphere at the top of the company. If the CEO, COO, and CHROs of the world get on board and begin to diversify themselves, it will become much easier to do the same at all levels of the company. They could also try to implement training on how to be inclusive and recognize biases when they do occur in the workplace. Education must occur in order to see progress.
As our country becomes more diverse and our world becomes more interconnected, it has become more important than ever to make sure the people of this country feel represented. When we prove to the world that we are willing to listen to the opinions of all types of people, we will find that they are more willing to listen to us.