Increasing workplace diversity has become something of a buzz phrase for business leaders, and it’s on just about every forward-thinking company’s list of goals. But truly increasing diversity in your organization, and with your partners and suppliers, is much more than checking off a box on a list of requirements. Building a network that values all perspectives isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also one of the best ways to increase your team’s innovation, creativity and happiness. Here’s why.
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Diversity in leadership spurs innovation — and results. A 2013 study conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed a positive correlation between the diversity — both natural and experiential — of leadership within businesses and performance. Diverse companies are more open to a variety of innovations: “When minorities form a critical mass and leaders value differences, all employees can find senior people to go to bat for compelling ideas and can persuade those in charge of budgets to deploy resources to develop those ideas.”
Your next big hire cares about the diversity within your company. Two-thirds of job-seekers consider diversity when hunting for the best place to work, according to a 2014 poll from Glassdoor. Not surprisingly, minority groups find diversity especially important.
The most creative solutions don’t come from homogenous teams. Demographic diversity is critical, but don’t stop there. Consider the necessity of what some researchers call deep-level diversity: values that are more psychological and include personality and background. Brainstorming and decision-making groups that include people with psychological differences are more creative.
Diverse teams don’t run on autopilot. When we’re surrounded by people who are just like us, we’re not challenged to stop and think about our words, thoughts or decisions. The presence of diversity, as Kellogg Insight writes, “creates awkwardness, and the need to diffuse this tension leads to better group problem solving.”
Diversity helps you reach a broader market. It’s a no-brainer: When your workplace is home to diverse individuals from different backgrounds, your company can more effectively market to all groups of consumers. Building a diverse workplace and network can help increase your company’s market share.
Employees will be happier and more likely to stick around.The same Glassdoor survey found that 57 percent of respondents think their company should do more to increase diversity in its workforce. Equality in the workplace encourages confidence in workers from all backgrounds. The higher the team morale, the more productive employees are, and the less likely they are to leave.
Companies with women in top-level positions make more money. In 2014, Credit Suisse released a report on gender and management. One finding: “Companies with more than one woman on the board have returned a compound 3.7% a year over those that have none since 2005…We find also that companies with higher female representation at the board level or in top management exhibit higher returns on equity, higher valuations and also higher payout ratios.”
Increasing diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do (which it is), it’s also a concrete way to increase your team’s creativity, happiness and profitability.
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