The world of human resource management is rapidly adapting to new technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality for progress. While it is essential to implement new techniques and strategies, organizations also need to factor in one of the most basic and humane aspects impacting efficiency and growth in an organization — diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
What is diversity?
Every organization is made up of several unique individuals hailing from different cultural, religious, educational, geographical, and racial backgrounds. These individuals, with a difference in their experience, skill sets, IQs, and many other factors bring enhanced solutions and efficiency within the team.
In short, workforce diversity is an entity composed of a heterogeneous mix of individuals that use their distinctive characteristics to improve the working conditions in an organization.
Diversity can broadly be classified into five types:
- Cultural diversity
- Gender diversity
- Age diversity
- Racial diversity
- Disability diversity
Benefits of diversity in workplace
Diversity and inclusion may seem like the latest HR trend or a corporate norm for organizations to follow, but the benefits listed below throw light on the importance of workplace diversity and its competitive advantage.
1. Different perspectives
Since the employees come from different backgrounds with varied experiences, talents and values, they share a different approach to each task or problem. The different perspectives lead to a better understanding of the problem at hand and ensure effective planning, management, and business decisions. It also gives an insight into consumer psychology and behavior that helps prepare employees to steer away from probable issues.
2. Better problem-solving
Studies have shown that a group with varied backgrounds can come up with better and creative solutions to a problem than a group with the same cognitive skills. The diversity in approach makes room for analyzing potential risks that can easily be dealt with. With enhanced problem-solving skills, the productivity of the team and in turn the company is improved.
3. Enhanced decision-making
Research has shown that inclusive groups are known to deliver 60% better results than groups with similar cognitive thinking or the same gender. Diverse groups make decisions with fewer meetings and take nearly half the time to conclude on a decision with all the risks and challenges factored in.
The human brain has a tendency to refer to past experiences for solutions. But with a diverse group in an organization, the group employs divergent thinking by taking the best of several unique individual experiences. Employees expose themselves to new mindsets and break out of their usual thinking patterns, which promotes creativity in their work and management skills.
5. Enhanced employee engagement
With cultural diversity in the workplace, it has been observed that employees are more engaged, which directly impacts the quality and efficiency of work. Employees with a higher engagement do not hesitate to go the extra mile in accomplishing the tasks at hand. Diversity and equality encourage dedication and enthusiasm among employees, giving them a sense of loyalty and responsibility towards the organization, which in turn fosters a sense of home among the employees and the retention rate is enhanced. Constant engagement also leads to a reduced bias towards other genders, cultures, and communities within the team.
6. Reputation of the organization
With a diverse workforce in an organization, employees are aware of the problems, preferences, and concerns of communities across the globe. This makes room for understanding and harmony within the team. Having a diverse team can also widen the customer base, as it can be applied to designing products and services that cater to the requirements of all diversities. Diversity also enables a global impact on the organization’s reputation.
7. Improved hiring results
When a hiring team includes diverse employees, the balance of the interviewers brings in unique discussions and perspectives to identify and hire the right candidates. It also helps bring a sense of comfort and composure for the candidate, so they can perform better at the interview. Hiring better candidates is easier when a larger talent pool is available.
Challenges of diversity in the workplace
While the benefits of empowering diversity in a workplace are many, diversity and inclusion also have their shortcomings in a work environment.
– When a team includes individuals of different nationalities, factors like visa requirements and specific employment laws need to be catered to
– There could be a conflict in certain customs and professional etiquette that can cause misunderstandings within the team
– Language barriers and varying communication styles can lead to some friction in the workflow
– Unintentional discrimination can lead to miscommunication and discomfort within the team
– Individuals from certain communities may not be as outspoken and some good ideas and arguments may not be expressed
How to promote diversity in the workplace
Implementing diversity in the workplace may seem challenging, but is essential. Here are some basic workplace diversity tips that can be implemented to make the most of diversity and inclusion.
– Alter company policies to include the essential basics of diverse communities. This could include a religious holiday that isn’t part of the organization’s calendar or offering an on-site daycare.
– The Human Resources department could make a special effort in educating higher authorities as well as employees about the importance of diversity and inclusion and how it can be implemented to benefit the company
– Maintain clear communication and follow-ups to ensure all employees have the same understanding of the task at hand
– Conduct employee engagement programs either in the form of simple surveys or training programs to help teams maintain a harmonious relationship among themselves through feedback and opportunities for communication
– Treat everyone equally! While this may seem like the most obvious way to implement diversity and inclusion, individuals have preconceived biases that they may not necessarily be aware of. It’s important to identify and attend to these unconscious biases for better professional relationships
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are now beyond a moral obligation or a corporate trend and organizations that embrace diversity are sure to benefit immensely in not just progress and productivity but also in improving their overall brand reputation across several continents, communities, and cultures.
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