Why Your Business Needs to Have an Inclusive and Diverse Workforce
Pride Month highlights the importance of creating an inclusive and diverse workforce. But these topics should not be neglected for the other 11 months of the year. We live in a vibrant, multicultural society where diversity brings a multitude of benefits to business, not a quota to fill or a checklist to check off.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace mean having employees from a variety of backgrounds. It also means that we do not discriminate against those with protected characteristics in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. Is not just about nationality, but about physical appearance, sexual orientation, and physical ability. A diverse workforce not only benefits all employees but can bring about improved performance and it is these two points that we are going to focus on.
The effects of diversity on the workforce
Having a diverse and inclusive culture in your business makes your employees feel comfortable and accepted for who they are. For a business, this can only help to improve employee loyalty and help to retain your talent.
In 2017, Harvard Business Review looked at how cognitively diverse teams are more adept at problem-solving than teams of cognitively similar people. In strong, homogeneous cultures, the pressure to conform can stifle the creativity that diversity brings as employees will not feel comfortable speaking out or bringing a difference to the table. This can affect team performance as a whole and employees may feel that they are not reaching their full potential.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘happiness is contagious’? Well, it is true. A study carried out by Harvard Medical School found that finding out that the friend of a friend was genuinely happy increased our happiness by 6%. A pay rise only increased our happiness by 2%. An inclusive workforce that is encouraged to embrace their uniqueness will create a happier workplace. We all know that happy employees are more productive, demonstrate greater employer loyalty, and improve your company brand.
The effects of diversity on a business’s performance
An inclusive and diverse workforce gives an organisation a wide array of perspectives that are vital to developing business strategies. Diversity can bring about a ‘melting pot of fresh ideas’ that bolster creativity. People from different backgrounds with different life experiences and skills will generate a wider variety of ideas than a homogenous workforce.
Diverse organisations are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability and this is directly related to the wide range of perspectives an inclusive and diverse workforce brings to a business. Having different viewpoints from people with different life experiences enriches brainstorming sessions which foster a more creative thought process and lead to innovation that can enable that business to stand out from its competitors.
A more diverse team will be better placed to engage with a wider audience, not least when it comes to customer satisfaction as they will be able to relate their wants, needs, and pain points and better resonate with customers.
Inclusivity and diversity should not be a box-ticking exercise for any business. Businesses need to have a workforce that is truly reflective of the world we live in, but with LGBT+ people making up between 2-5% of the population, studies suggest that they are impacted by mental health issues on a greater scale. HR teams need to act to demonstrate that they recognise that there are LGBT+ people working for them and ensure that company policies and procedures are accessible and inclusive. This report from bitc will help businesses ensure that their employees feel safe and comfortable in their working environment and allow them the freedom to be who they are.
Now more than ever creating an inclusive and diverse workforce is essential, not just for social justice, but to improve our faltering economy in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.