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The importance of diversity in the workplace

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18 Sep 2017
Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic that affects all organisations. With strengthening laws surrounding LGBTQI rights, and a rapid growth in diverse cultures across the world the need to consider diversity in the workplace has become a prominent issue. The term diversity is widely understood as being the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation and most people understand its importance in the workplace. 

A complex global issue

Diversity is a complex issue and has become a minefield for businesses who are finding it increasingly difficult to stay up-to-date and adapt. Not only do business leaders have to ensure they consider different races and genders, but they also have to take the full spectrum of what diversity is into account. Diversity laws cover race, gender, ethnic groups, age and personality with the list constantly growing. It has become a key issue for hiring managers in all sectors, and it is almost impossible to ensure all the boxes are being ticked when building a diverse workforce, which is possibly the reason why many tend to hire the same sorts of people.

Human nature

We instinctively strive to find our own ‘tribe’ and fit in with like-minded people, which in business can often lead to issues when hiring a diverse workforce. We are all drawn to traits and personalities we can relate to, and are most comfortable with. Constantly hiring the same type of employee can be damaging to your business, team and overall business reputation. As a result more businesses should work to remove unconscious bias in their recruitment process. 

Implicit or unconscious bias happens when our brains make incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. Our biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences, and it can often sway decisions during the hiring process. It is widely accepted that creating, nurturing and building a diverse workforce brings with it an abundance of different skillsets, experiences and points of view, and also opens your whole team for growth, new collaborations, and huge success. 

It is difficult to do, but recruiters and hiring managers need to step out of their own comfort zone, and leave personal preferences at the door when recruiting for new staff. This can be done in a number of ways, firstly by removing unconscious bias and neutralising all applications. Remove gender, age and name before a CV is submitted to the hiring manager, and qualify applicants on their skills and experience alone. Secondly I would advise business leaders to think outside of the box when attracting candidates from all spectrums. Many organisations use the same platforms for recruitment and will inevitably attract the same types of candidates, which does not promote a culture of inclusivity.

Diversify and get noticed
In addition to hiring a diverse workforce, promoting complete inclusion within your organisation on every level is also essential. Businesses adopting innovative diversity strategies are reporting huge success. Last month Thomson Holidays was named as the headline sponsor for Manchester Pride, PwC won Employer of the Year at the prestigious 2017 British LGBT Awards and Barclays, Santander and Tesco continually hold top positions on the Stonewall Equality Index. Receiving accolades like this supports and boosts team morale as well as building a positive reputation which is of the upmost importance as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
Securing an advantage 

Today, diversity in the workplace is much more than a vital social goal or the result of a requisite legal calculation. Forward-thinking companies understand that building diverse teams of employees within their ranks at every level is critical to their organisational and operational success. Diversity is not just a business requirement, and it is not just the right thing to do; it is a tool that can give you a powerful business advantage – sparking innovation, creativity and efficiency. To capitalise on the remarkable workplace dynamic that results when differences in talents, viewpoints and experiences are embraced, organisations should start by developing a clear strategy to embed the search for diversity within their core principles.

Manage diversity effectively

Managing diversity is about having the right person for the job regardless of sex, race, disability or any other diversity factors. It combats prejudice, stereotyping, harassment and other undignified behaviour and creates an environment in which people from all backgrounds can work together harmoniously. Your employees should truly be a reflection of your diverse customer base – and the even broader base that your business aims to realise. Injecting multicultural perspectives into your teams, attracting and retaining employees who speak a variety of languages, and seeking out individuals from different backgrounds can only enhance your service.

Tagged In: Diversity
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