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Why is Diversity so Important in Today's Workforce?

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Conversations about workplace diversity have been ongoing for some time and a breakfast event focused on recruiting for diversity and inclusion, held at our Sydney office, demonstrated how passionate HR and recruitment professionals are about addressing the ongoing issue.

Industry research into the topic is increasing and building a strong case linking diversity with business success, so much so that diversity executives have become common at major corporations. Netflix, for example, recently announced the appointment of Vernā Myers to the newly created role of vice president for inclusion strategy to focus on inclusion and diversity at the entertainment giant.

So what evidence can we call on as we build a case for diversity in our own workplaces?

BUSINESS CASE POINT #1: Better Bottom Line Performance

As our Sydney event panelist, David Meere from Life Without Barriers, rightly pointed out, while focusing on diversity and inclusion is quite simply just the right thing to do, it has also been proven to deliver better business outcomes.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group supports David’s point as it found that companies with a more diverse management team achieve a 19% higher revenue due to innovation in terms of new products and services launched.

While the same study found that 75% of those surveyed said diversity was gaining traction in their business, it has demonstrated that it needs to start at the top to avoid limiting the evolution of the company, what it offers and the revenue it generates.

BUSINESS CASE POINT #2: Improved Employee Engagement & Retention

According to our panel moderator, Kelly Wright from Hays, “If we open up our minds to be able to say, we welcome diversity and we want to include everybody, we are going to offer a better service, a better product, a better organization, a better working environment.”

Studies have shown that diversity and inclusion practices don’t just bring employees in the door they also encourage them to stay. Research from Deloitte found that 72% of the American employees surveyed would leave their company for a more diverse organization.

Yet, research from Hays found that a staggering 63% of those surveyed felt their chance of career progression had been limited due to their sexual orientation, age, gender or disability. There are underlying biases that are preventing businesses from hiring and keeping the best people for the job.

For tips on how to improve employee engagement and retention in your business, check out this blog.

BUSINESS CASE POINT #3: Increased Creativity & Innovation

Our second panelist, Lucy Briggs-Farrell from Planit Testing, touched on a popular belief when she said, “…the benefit of having a diverse workforce is having diverse thinking.”

Thriving in highly competitive environments requires a collaboration of different viewpoints. A study by Northwestern and Brigham Young Universities looked at what happens when you mix groups of “oldtimers” and “newcomers.” Groups were asked to solve a murder mystery and those with more diversity were more likely to correctly identify the murderer than those with uniformity.

Similarly, in an article for Psychology Today, human performance coach David Rock discussed how diverse teams will often re-examine facts stating, “They’re more likely to remain objective, and be less timid about scrutinizing others’ points of view.” Allowing people to work with different groups of people, encourages them to be aware of and address their own biases.

BUSINESS CASE POINT #4: Better Alignment with Customers & New Markets

As David Meere stated during our panel discussion, “People want to engage with organizations that are a reflection of them…” Ensuring you have a mix of employees will encourage better engagement with a broader range of customers and increase sales via a wider market scope.

And, as LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report revealed, this is one business case that is picking up traction globally as businesses recognise the commercial benefits of creating teams that will improve their customer orientation. The research found that nearly half (49%) of employers surveyed said they focus on diversity to better represent their customers.

The evidence is building to demonstrate why diversity and inclusion should be top of the priority list for every business, and the anecdotal observations made by our panelists are all supported by a growing volume of research.

The next challenge is moving from why to how you should improve the diversity of your workplace. Keep an eye out for our next blog, which will focus on this, calling on more of the insights shared during our Sydney event.

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