May 30, 2020

Importance of Workplace Diversity

Anshika Awasthi

Imagine a typical person, navigating his or her life. This person (we’ll call him perceiver) has gathered a great amount of information which is stored in his/her memory in form of a warehouse. This warehouse has sorted bins, each bin filled with relevant information. Now the perceiver meets another individual or encounters a situation. Some of the information stored in that warehouse is relevant to this encounter, some are not. Now, how will the perceiver find the right information in the warehouse when he has never encountered such a situation?

Similarly, how can a workplace function with the same bunch of people with similar intellectual? How can a workplace manage to co-exist with different groups of people when they have been working with the same bunch of few?

Every successful organisation is the one who has understood the importance of workplace diversity. This article will give you reasons to understand the importance of workplace diversity even more.

Influencing psychological perspective

In a job hunt, two of the most important factor which matter are:

  • Getting selected for the job position in a workplace
  • When selected, a smooth job experience.

These two factors are vastly linked with the psychological perspective of people sitting at the decision making stage.

Let’s see how the importance of workplace diversity influences these two factors:

  • Firstly, in the workplace, decision-makers tend to hire people who are similar to them. For example, a white male would prefer a white man over a black man. A Bengali would prefer a Bengali over Punjabis and so on.

Psychological literature has demonstrated that decision-maker who has been in a diverse environment will encourage the use of more effortful i.e. less stereotypic cognitive processing. Meaning a person in a diverse workplace will be fairer in his/her judgment rather than a non-diverse person.

  • In a non-diverse workplace, hiring and promotion decisions are a result of a matching process in which decision-makers compares his impressions of the applicant. If there’s a match the decision-makers form a positive expectation towards that applicant to perform successfully at a job.

This situation doesn’t exist in a diverse workplace. The decision-makers are exposed to many groups of people. Importance of workplace diversity is what influences their judgement based on potential and not similarity in a race, sex or gender.

Influencing workforce

Heterogeneous organisations who value workplace diversity have higher-quality group decision making, higher creativity and innovation, more organisational flexibility, greater ability to retain best talents, higher marketing capabilities.

A 2019 Deloitte survey suggests that millennials would consider leaving an employer who didn’t prioritise diversity and related values. By the year 2025, millennials will account for 75% of the workforce. This is indeed a strong incentive for organisations to promote a more diverse work environment.

Now let’s discuss it further, the importance of workplace diversity impacts a workplace at two major levels, namely; at an individual level and organisational level.

Workplace diversity at Individual level

Workplace diversity impacts organisational-level outcomes indirectly through effects that begin at an individual level. Importance of workplace diversity can be seen impacting and benefiting employees of an organisation in many ways:

Gaining employees mutual respect

Workplace diversity fosters mutual respect among employees. Employees in a team or group in varied work styles, disabilities, cultural and generational differences have become a work environment norm. Employees recognise many strengths while working in a team resulting in gaining respect for their team members’ performance.

Conflict reduction and resolution

Conflicts occur in a work environment. However, when employees start acknowledging each other differences often finds similarities in working for a common goal.

In workplace diversity, the ability to resolve conflicts minimises team tension and greater productivity. Respect for co-workers facilitates easier conflict resolution.

Business reputation enhancement

Workplace diversity is important for employees as it manifests in building a great company reputation leading to increased productivity and opportunities. A diverse workplace has fair employment practices and appreciation for diverse talent which results in attracting a wider pool of qualified applicants.

Workplace diversity at the organisational level

In a workplace diversity, workplace measurement at organisation-level plays an important part. These include:

  • Workforce identity profile to highlight demographic differences
  • Cultural values and norms
  • Communication networks
  • HR policies and practices related to promotion, recruitment, pay and work schedules

These measures yield information about the cultural barriers that may hinder the productivity of an organisation as a whole.

When the importance of workplace diversity is identified by an organisation it results in:

  • Improved productivity and market performance with innovative strategies
  • Equality and fairness in the workplace with an increasing number of women on minorities on payroll
  • Integration and learning environment where majority members learn from minorities forming a work culture which reflects two-way adaptation and learning.

More innovative ideas

Workplace diversity consists of a broader range of employees. They have more dynamic experiences, backgrounds from which they drive more ideas, inspiration and information resulting in more innovative ideas on the table. Example of one such creative organisations is:

L’Oréal

The beauty company has a presence of 130 countries on five continents. Workplace diversity is at the core of the company’s success. L’Oréal sponsors disability awareness workshops, provides internships for young women from African nations, supports and develops social start-ups, integrates with refugees etc. Such work from L’Oréal has made the company is one of the top diverse workplace performers by Forbes. Such global initiatives have resulted in L’Oréal as one of the most innovative beauty company across the globe with a diverse workforce.

According to a study  from Boston Consulting Group shows that companies with such innovative ideas earn 19% more revenue than those with below-average leadership diversity.

Reaching the audience with authenticity

Remember when Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad met with the backlash? With all that backlash, marketing and advertising professional started to emphasise the importance of diversity and relevant research to avoid such failures. Marketing week research states that 42 per cent of marketers believe companies they collaborate with aren’t diverse in their marketing and advertising.

With more diverse and experience in the room, there’s a better chance of resonating with the audience. Those ideas instil the authenticity of the brand in the eye of the audience.

Bottom line

Is there anyone still left who doesn’t think that workplace diversity is a good thing? Importance of workplace diversity if valued by organisations are marching their routes towards easier success. Great minds produce creativity and innovation. Big companies like Google, Facebook have already measured success in many ways with their diverse workforce. Its time your company should too.

About the author

Competitive, real; loves to keep working for what it wants. An extrovert who lives by her own ideas and methods.


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