Laura Iñiguez, Content Manager at Hirebook
Laura is a content and social media strategist with deep experience in Employee Engagement, People Management, and Culture. She works with Hirebook to bring their innovative best practices to life through content, videos, and webinars seen by thousands around the globe.
Pub: January 14 2021
. Upd: October 22 2021
Diversity in the workplace is something that’s rapidly becoming a priority in the business world, and although a diverse workforce provides lots of benefits, it’s something that must be implemented in a smart way to achieve higher productivity, profit, and to stay competitive.
Table of contents:
- What is Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?
- Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
- Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
What is Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?
Diversity is a term used to describe a group of people with different ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, cultural background, education, language, abilities, beliefs, etc.
Diversity in the workplace refers to having employees that include at least some of the diverse characteristics mentioned above.
Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Having people working for you with diverse backgrounds and upbringings means having lots of different and unique perspectives. This can only translate into better problem solving and greater ideas coming together for the benefit of the team and the company.
Think for a moment about having a team with people that are similar regarding their education and ethnicity, when it comes to solving a problem or having to decide something important, most likely they’ll all come up with similar solutions and decisions, while this scenario may seem to achieve decisions faster and with little effort, it doesn’t mean the results will be beneficial.
Now, when having a culturally diverse employees and teams, the problem solving and decision making processes become richer, offering different perspectives and opening a whole new world of possibilities, therefore obtaining solutions you never have thought of and that will benefit your company in ways never imagined.
Creativity and Innovation
If you’re wondering why is diversity important, this is definitely one of the strongest answers. A diverse workforce with different backgrounds and points of view leads to greater innovation and creativity.
Think that a group of people with different viewpoints focusing on the same problem to solve will offer you a variety of creative solutions. In the end, when people are exposed to different perspectives, it sparks creativity not only when it comes to problem solving, but in other areas too. This is why a diverse workforce tends to develop more innovative leaders.
Prospects are no longer looking for the typical corporate job because they know there’s so much more interesting offers nowadays, with benefits that don’t just focus on salary, but development and employee wellbeing as well. (To learn more about employee engagement, check out our article “Sustaining Employee Engagement Best Practices”). According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor:
With so much work there is to do to stay competitive, it’s refreshing to know that we can recruit from a broader talent pool and be able to obtain the best talent to work for us. It’s even better now that companies are moving towards a hybrid model of work, because we literally can search all over the world for candidates and hire the best talent out there. While you still have to be picky regarding the skills you’re looking for to fill a position, it’s great to know there’s a broader pool of talent to pick from and that people with diverse backgrounds will bring so many different things to the table.
A lot of studies have shown that companies with diverse teams perform better and increase their profits. A 2015 report by McKinsey, that included over 350 companies, showed that:
And it’s not just about race and ethnicity: a 2012 global analysis by Credit Suisse found that organizations with at least one female board member reported higher net income growth and higher return on equity than those without any women on the board.
Companies with cultural diversity in the workplace make decisions faster and with richer purposes, giving them a significant advantage over their competitors and, therefore, resulting in better results.
Performance and Engagement
It’s a proven fact that environments with homogeneous individuals instill peer pressure to fit in. Employees in these environments tend to be more reserved and perform cautiously out of fear of rejection, resulting in low performance.
Having a culturally diverse workforce creates an inclusive environment. When employees experience a variety of viewpoints, upbringings, backgrounds and culture they feel safe and driven to be themselves; which develops richer discussions and debates and provides a lot of knowledge among team members. When employees feel like they can be themselves and enjoy being around their teammates, performance reaches higher levels and employees engage with their company in a positive way.
Also, companies with more inclusive environments, experience way less turnover than those companies who lack diversity.
Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Understanding cultural diversity in the workplace is complex, obviously there are challenges that come when trying to create a diverse workplace. The issues that come with diversity can be addressed by both the company and employees, and can be managed if everyone cooperates.
The important matter here is to make sure everyone is in sync, and understands that respecting and accepting differences in culture, race, ethnicity and so on, are key to embracing diversity in the workplace.
Here are some tips on managing and promoting diversity in the workplace:
Hold Sensitivity Training SessionsEmployees not always understand the importance of cultural diversity, which is why providing them with sensitivity training can help them to value different points of view, perspectives, and to understand what actions or terms can be offensive to others and what to do if they feel offended because of someone else’s behavior.
Point Out MicroaggressionsNow that cultural diversity is becoming a hot topic and something that some older folks didn’t worry about that much in the past, it’s common not noticing certain microaggressions taking place. Microaggressions are defined as everyday subtle, intentional - and sometimes unintentional - interactions of behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups. Make sure you help point them out and have your team doing so as well once they’re caught on on what these microaggressions look and sound like. Slowly but surely your employees will ensure a safe environment for anyone with different backgrounds than theirs.
Written PoliciesIn order to make sure every employee knows they’re part of a diverse workplace, create policies addressing diversity and include them in their contracts or employee handbooks. This policy(ies) should contain key points about non-discrimination laws, the company code of conduct and what repercussions they’ll experience in case they don’t follow the mentioned guidelines.
Celebrate The Different Cultures and BackgroundsThere are many activities you can organize to celebrate those differences that enrich your company; like holding special events for important celebrations of other cultures, pride month, women’s day, etc. You can also set up volunteer programs to visit organizations that serve underrepresented groups, these are often eye-opening experiences where they receive even more than what they give when volunteering.
Culturally diverse companies usually experience better performance, employee engagement and get higher results! As you can see, the benefits of cultural diversity are worth considering implementing a more culturally diverse workforce. As a society, we have learned the importance of cultural diversity and inclusion, but we still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. The world is changing everyday, and if we don’t keep up with it, we’re going to get stuck in the past and in ways that no longer work. There’s always room for knowledge and improvement, and we need to keep our minds open, we never know when someone will fill in the blanks we’ve been looking to fill for a long time. We hope you’re ready to impact your company in a positive way when implementing the benefits of cultural diversity!
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