Us humans seek diversity in our daily lives because each one of us has different thoughts, ideas, and opinions. All around us, there is a whole world of different kinds of restaurants, music genres, fashion, books and much more. All these ideas and businesses have come about because humans seek new and diverse experiences. Workplace diversity has been creating a lot of buzz lately with countless studies being conducted over the last couple of years. For instance, a recent study by BCG found that a diverse workforce powers innovation that can lead to up to 19% more revenue. Employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences look at a problem from a different perspective and can come up with a different solution. This study has proved that diversity within employees is an integral part of a successful generating business.
Organisations are increasingly committing to creating a diverse workforce as they are realising the benefits. BBC decided to boost diversity by announcing that all shortlists for middle and senior-ranking posts, will include at least one BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) candidate. It is also aiming that by 2020, it’s executive committee and divisional leadership teams will have at least two people from ethnic minority backgrounds. In addition, they made culture awareness and unconscious bias training programme mandatory for all managers.
With globalisation, we now have greater access to global talent. In order to attract and retain the best talent, employers need to become more understanding and accepting of diverse people, making them feel valued and respected.
A survey by Linkedin on the global recruitment trends revealed that diversity is “the biggest game-changer and most embraced trend” in recruitment and it’s impacting the way employers are hiring. The report revealed that 78% of companies prioritise diversity to improve their organisational culture and 62% to improve financial performance.
Understanding the broad definition of diversity in the workplace
People often define diversity narrowly, thinking about gender, race, age or religion and they overlook aspects like language, education, disability, personality, industry background, and sexual orientation. When thinking about diversity, it is crucial that you consider all aspects that may make us “diverse”.
How can organisations improve diversity?
For real change, employers must build awareness of diversity. Educating employees on how they can avoid unconscious bias is the first step that should be taken. One way to address unconscious biases is for employees to review and analyse their own. This can be done through Harvard’s Project Implicit, a survey created by scientists that helps individuals explore their implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.
Run effective meetings
Meetings are an integral part of work as it’s a time where ideas can be exchanged. Managers need to ensure that these meetings are set up in a way where all kinds of voices are heard. In addition, they should even think of approaching diverse personalities, such as introverts and extroverts, accordingly.
Be aware of “Microaggressions”
Microaggressions or “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership” can damage working relationships. Sexist comments or when someone talks about another’s disability could be deemed as innocent comments but these casual comments can make others feel uncomfortable.
Encourage your employees to get a different perspective from their usual way of working. That can be achieved through “reverse mentoring”. Reverse mentoring is an initiative where older executives are paired with and mentored by junior employees.
Acknowledge holidays of all cultures and religions
One way to improve diversity is to recognise the diverse cultural holidays your staff might be celebrating, such as Chinese New Year, Eid, and Hanukkah. You can communicate this by sending a general message in your organisation’s intranet or announcing it at a meeting. It is important managers are respectful of these days as employees may require flexibility and time off. Employees will be motivated by the organisation’s respect for other culture’s special days.
Organise “Culture Days” regularly
A great idea would be to dedicate one day a month or quarterly to learning about a different culture. You can choose cultures that are represented by your employees or even go further afield. Activities can be organised inspired by that culture, such as cooking a meal.
Design diverse reward systems
It is important you recognise that employees are motivated by different things and as such your organisation should have a universal reward and promotion system. Pay close attention to what individual team members may want. Some might be looking for monetary rewards, others greater flexibility. By understanding the diverse needs, you can tailor your approach to motivate your employees.
Fostering diversity, will not only improve your financial performance but will help you drive innovation, creativity retention, and unity in the workplace.