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The importance of diversity in the workplace

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27 Jul 2016
The importance of diversity in the workplaceDiversity in the workplace is a hot topic in today’s business sector. With strengthening laws surrounding LGBT(QI) rights, and a rapid growth in diverse cultures across the world the need to consider diversity in the workplace has become a prominent issue for business leaders. The term diversity is nowadays widely understood, and most people understand its importance in the workplace, but when you take a good step back and take time to assess can you truly say your company is diverse?

A complex global issue

Diversity is a complex issue globally and is becoming a bit of a minefield for businesses who are finding it increasingly difficult to stay up to date and adapt. Business leaders don’t just have to ensure they consider different races and genders, but have to take the full spectrum of what diversity is into account. Diversity laws nowadays cover race, gender, ethnic groups, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organisational function, education, and background, with the list constantly growing. It has become a hiring managers’ nightmare, and almost nigh on 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’ in life 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 do a disservice to your business, team and overall business reputation. Creating, nurturing and building a diverse workforce not only brings with it an abundance of different skillsets, experiences and points of view but it also opens your whole team up for growth, new collaborations, and huge success. It’s 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 taking new staff into the business.

Diversify and get noticed

While diversity in hiring is one part of the task at hand, promoting complete inclusion within your organisation on every operational level is essential. UK Businesses are constantly adapting and growing with diversity and those focussing strongly are reaping the benefits. Businesses adopting innovative diversity business models are reporting successes beyond compare, with Asda recently winning LGBT(QI) employer of the year at the British LGBT Awards, IBM the current top employer for women, and Barclays, Santander and Tesco among those honoured in the Stonewall Equality Index. Receiving accolades like this is not only good for team morale, but also your overall global reputation which is of the upmost importance.

Progression aside, we still have a long way to go to truly achieve what the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) strive for. Facebook, seen to be at the forefront of diversity success in recent years is currently under scrutiny for having a “predominantly white male workforce” with the release of their annual diversity report showing only minor changes. The commission is working tirelessly to ensure all businesses, big or small are complying with legislation which is incredibly difficult to enforce, but live in the hope that one day, all inequalities in the workplace will be a thing of the past.

Getting the business advantage

When the EOC was set up, it was to tackle the issue of Gender Discrimination predominantly and to offer women the same working rights as their male counterparts. However, in modern day society, equal opportunities has been broadened and backed up by law to provide the same level of protection to other minority groups in the workforce. So today, we have a Race Relations Policy, a Disability Discrimination Policy and an Equal Pay Policy.

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 actually critical to their organisational and operational success.

In other words, diversity is not just a business requirement, and it is not just the right thing to do; it is the genesis of 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 and disability. 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 multiple world 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 offerings.

The benefits are clear: a more collaborative workplace, the promotion of innovation and critical thinking, greater synergies with customers and a powerful business reputation.

For more information about Sellick Partnership’s own equal opportunities policy. Please click here. Equal Opportunities

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