When you look around your workplace how many people are like you or similar to each other? Take a moment to reflect on the demographics of the group of people you work with and how alike or different you all are.
We’re all well aware that diversity continues to be a critical priority on the leadership and HR agenda. And while the fight for gender equality at work is critical, it’s not the only important diversity challenge we face. For one, young people are struggling to establish their careers. The unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 is more than double the national average at 13.3 per cent.
At the other end of thecareer spectrum, older workers are also battling to win employment opportunities. It’s a harsh reality that many employers overlook the value of the skills and experience they can offer. And people from culturally diverse backgrounds continue to face the prejudice andunconscious bias when seeking work – and at their places of work.
What often gets lost in the conversation is that diversity matters for reasons beyond fairness and integrity. The positive impact of diversity on team and organisational performance is consistently supported by research into areas from innovation and creativity, to economics. More leaders are beginning to recognise that overcoming discrimination is not just the right thing to do; it’s unquestionably the smart thing do.
However a barrier to greater diversity continues to be the ability to convince those in charge to take action to build and support diverse workplaces. Here are five compelling arguments to strive for greater diversity:
- Diversity broadens your vision: Studies have shown that one-sided perspectives stifle business innovation. Diverse teams mitigate the danger for extremes of polarity to influence perceptions of reality and decision-making. It allows teams to move past the limitations created by building teams of people, who all think, feel and behave alike.
- It strengthens capability: According to the Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality agency, organisations that value diversity “are better able to attract and retain high performers and improve operational performance.”
- Diversity encourages teams to evolve and grow: When people with differing philosophies, perspectives, and ideas engage in healthy, robust debate, their ability to innovate, challenge the status quo, grow and evolve improves.
- It also drives customer satisfaction: Thanks to technology, the world is getting smaller. Globalisation means businesses can sell to customers virtually everywhere. To stay relevant, businesses must adapt to an increasingly diverse client base and target market. Studies show that the more an organisation’s team reflects the demographic of their market, the more likely they are to succeed.
5. Diversity improves the bottom line: Research into the financial returns of diverse companies reveals a strong connection between a team’s knowledge of their customers and ability to target their approach accordingly. Organisations that understand the value of diversity, from diversity of ethnic or cultural background, gender and sexual orientation (the LGBT community) – as well as diversity of experience (such as a global mindset and cultural fluency) are likely to bring a level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent.
Learn how to transform your workplace culture at AHRI’s Inclusion and Diversity Conference in Sydney on 1 May 2017. Registrations close 26 April 2017.