We are living in an interconnected world fuelled by globalisation and technological advancements. As a result, the modern workplace is increasingly filled with modern teams that are undeniably diverse as well as inclusive and remote. In a post-COVID-19 world, this is the reality that many businesses are happy to experience.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion, and how they can facilitate transformations and help businesses compete in the complex, volatile, and uncertain market today.
But first, what is diversity and inclusion anyway?
What are "diversity" and "inclusion"?
Workplace diversity refers to a variety of diverse individuals within an organisation. Diversity is not just about gender, ethnicity, and age but also about mindset, personalities, life experiences, etc.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the definition of diversity can also be extended to the diverse ways of working as employees are offered the flexibility to work in their preferred ways, prominently remotely.
Inclusion refers to the extent to which diverse individuals truly feel a sense of belonging. Indications of workplace inclusion are the ability to express their opinions or participate in the decision-making processes freely.
Benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion
The world nowadays is changing in many ways. One way of broadening one's perspective and acquiring more knowledge is to build a diverse and inclusive environment.
Arguably, diversity might induce conflicts and skill gaps, particularly against older staff who are not as tech-savvy as the younger generation.
Having a remote, diverse and inclusive workforce would minimise disagreements between co-workers that have different religions or perspectives. Thus, workplace diversity and inclusion provide a range of benefits for both the company and its employees.
1. An increased chance of hiring talented individuals
A company that fosters diversity and inclusion stands a higher chance of attracting and acquiring more talented individuals, who not only fit in well with the jobs but also the company’s culture1.
People from different backgrounds can offer a wide selection of different skills, talents, and experiences. Having a diverse and inclusive environment will benefit both the company and its employees by enabling employees to learn skills from each other and bridge any skill gaps.
2. Better at problem-solving
Companies with higher diversity and inclusion in the workforce solve problems faster. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review2 also backed up this claim and stated that cognitively diverse teams solve problems better and quicker than those that have similar thinking patterns.
Why? Because people from different backgrounds have different views and experiences and can quickly produce unique solutions. Therefore, there is a larger likelihood of finding the perfect solution at a quicker pace.
3. More innovation and creativity
Working with people who have different backgrounds, and cultures, and have walked on different paths will help individuals to improve their creative side and think outside the box because, after all, we are all born creative. Bouncing ideas off of each other and getting feedback and suggestions will help team members to put the pieces together and build a magnificent, successful project.
A diverse and inclusive company also has a higher innovation rate and is 1.7 times3 more likely to become the leader in the market. Moreover, by having a workforce which is gender-neutral and age-diverse, companies can experience higher stability and flexibility as well as employee engagement and satisfaction.
4. Succeed in the global market
Building an age-inclusive and racially and ethnically diverse workforce can also create a competitive advantage. Successful teams can operate from dispersed locations, which in turn can improve the company’s bottom line4.
With a diverse work environment, there is a higher chance that employees will be fluent in different languages or knowledgeable regarding specific cultures. Their expertise can allow the company to cater to a diverse range of clients, a resource that without the addition of a diverse workforce will most likely not be tapped.
Additionally, diversity also acts as a key to global expansion success. Cultural and language differences can be problematic when a company wants to expand its business overseas. However, hiring employees who speak various languages will allow any company to communicate with a broader client base and expand to a more dynamic, even niche market.
5. Reaping the benefits of an increasingly global marketplace
Having a diverse and inclusive work environment does not simply mean employing individuals with different nationalities, it means creating a safe and positive community that welcomes everyone from any ethnicity, generation, skill level, and gender identity.
These are crucial aspects of a successful global venture when it comes to providing products and services to clients on a global scale5.
6. Enhance the company’s reputation and brand
Companies that have a diverse workforce or put the effort into advocating diversity and inclusion are often seen as more humane and socially responsible.
Building a diverse workforce makes it easier and more comfortable for clients as they know there is a dedicated team who speaks their language and understands their expectations. Ultimately, this makes brands look better, more sophisticated, and overall, more interesting. These are characteristics which open doors to new partners, customers, and new markets.
A diverse, open-minded, fair, and responsible workforce also fosters equal opportunities for all individuals and promotes zero tolerance for discrimination. Not only will this fairness attract higher-quality talents, but it will also help ensure the emotional security of all employees.
1. Hays-Thomas, R. (2017). Managing workplace diversity and inclusion: A psychological perspective. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
2. Reynolds, A. & Lewis D. (2017). Teams solve problems faster when they're more cognitively diverse. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/03/teams-solve-problems-faster-when-theyre-more-cognitively-diverse
3. Bersin, J. (2015). Why diversity and inclusion has become a business priority. Josh Bersin. http://joshbersin.com/2015/12/why-diversity-and-inclusion-will-be-a-top-priority-for-2016/
4. Gordon, P., Phd. (2018). Age Diversity in the Workplace. In C. T. Aquino & R. Robertson (Authors), Diversity and inclusion in the global workplace: Aligning initiatives with strategic business goals. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
5. Mor Barak, M. E. (2017). Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace: Request PDF. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305379153_Managing_Diversity_Toward_a_Globally_Inclusive_Workplace