For a lot of us, the term diversity usually makes us think exclusively of cultural diversity, but it means so much more than that. The idea of diversity in the workforce has come a long way since the advent of affirmative action laws, but there is so much more ground to cover. As we evolve to see diversity as more about individuals and less about quotas, race or creed, we can start to value the various perspectives that a diverse workforce can bring.
The United States has really lived up to its name as The Melting Pot. As the majority is quickly becoming the minority, the reasons to focus on diversity in the workplace are becoming more pressing with each passing year. Within the common terms in diversity, which are gender, age and race, there are several forms of diversity that are often overlooked:
- Physical ability
- Communication style
- Socioeconomic status
- Income level
- Sexual orientation
- Skill set
- Values and belief sets
Diversity is an Advantage
When we consider how diversity plays into recruiting practices, these overlooked forms of diversity represent a lot of missed opportunities. Teams comprised with diversity in mind will display higher creativity levels and their broadened perspectives can lead to increased innovation. Diversity also grants companies access to new market segments and therefore facilitates financial growth. Additionally, it is reported that companies that put an emphasis on diversity in their hiring practices benefit from higher customer loyalty rates.
In a 4Imprint.com study, 85 percent of survey respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace. Having a team full of unique insights, different perspectives and backgrounds will inevitably lead to increased innovation, and innovation is a crucial part of continued success in business. The “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality will only get organizations so far. Innovation is needed to evolve and improve.
Arms Wide Open
Do your statement, vision or values mention diversity anywhere? Many companies will include a diversity statement or vision on their company site and on their careers page. This is a great way to welcome workers from all walks of life. A lot of companies are also taking the initiative by offering diversity training to everyone from senior management to employees of all levels. This helps to get everyone on board with the diversity initiative.
Furthermore, no one will know about actions taken toward developing a more diverse workforce if you don’t tell anyone. Diversity efforts should be seen in every aspect of the recruiting process; from job ads to social media platforms, share your diversity efforts.
Arms Wide Shut
SoftGarden.com included some great examples of “casual discrimination” in a recent post focused on job ads. Take a look at what the job ad says, and then what it really says.
‘Able Bodied’ – No one with disabilities here please!
‘Young Team’ – Stay away oldies.
‘Salesman, Storeman’ – Anything but a woman
‘English must be your first language’ – No foreigners in these parts!
Customer markets and the global workplace in general become more and more diverse each day. Organizations need to drive diversity by creating a new hiring culture. Organizations need diversity as a strategic force in their future success.