We know diversity matters.
Diversity in the workplace can increase ROI, lead to more innovative ideas, and foster a more productive work environment. In fact, companies that place emphasis on diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median.
And, as Stephen Covey once said, “Strength lies in differences, not similarities."
Embracing diversity is a critical step for your business to grow and make an impact on a global level, but oftentimes, it's difficult to discern the true benefits of diversity -- and, if you don't know the benefits of diversity, how will you ever push for change?
Sure, we can say, "strength lies in differences," but what particular strengths are we talking about?
Here, we've cultivated a list of five awesome benefits of diversity at work, so you can understand and teach others why your company needs to enact diversity initiatives immediately.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace
- Diverse perspectives can foster innovation.
- Diverse teams will perform better, and come up with better ideas.
- Diversity can help your company become a global leader.
- Diversity will improve your work culture and help you attract better talent.
- Diversity improves your company's customer service.
1. Diverse perspectives can foster innovation.
There have been plenty of studies to support the notion that diversity breeds creativity and innovation. It makes sense -- if you have a team of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, you'll have a broader range of solutions offered.
As Janina Kugel, Human Resources Board Member and Chief Diversity Officer at Siemens, notes, "Diversity strengthens our innovative capacity, unleashes the potential of Siemens’ employees and thereby directly contributes to our business success."
Ultimately, it's critical you have diverse perspectives to enable your team to brainstorm out-of-the-box solutions to complex problems, or challenge each other's way of thinking.
Diverse perspectives can also help you develop better products to meet your customers needs. For instance, Mattel Inc., a global toy manufacturer, has said, "We understand that a culture rich in diversity is key to business success. It allows us to better understand the business opportunities in various markets around the world, and develop products that resonate with consumers in diverse cultures."
By promoting diversity, Mattel Inc. is able to create more innovative toys and remain a global leader in their industry.
2. Diverse teams will perform better, and come up with better ideas.
If you have a team of people with different skills, backgrounds, and prior experiences, you're more likely to have people who offer unique ideas and brainstorm better solutions. In fact, Harvard Business Review found diverse teams are able to solve problems faster than cognitively similar people.
Additionally, diversity enables you to create a culture in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas. If you have a team of nine men and one woman, that one woman might have some fantastic ideas but remain silent out of a sense of being outnumbered. That's a shame -- her ideas could be the solution to a major company problem.
Melissa Obleada, HubSpot's D&I Program Manager, told me, "There's research that shows you'll prepare better arguments for your case if you are working with a group with diverse points of view. If you expect that you'll get pushback, you'll think more about why your ideas are worth fighting for or listening to."
Ultimately, creating a company with diverse teams will inspire more creative ideas, but just as importantly, it will enable you to create a culture in which your employees feel safe sharing those ideas.
Plus, as Flora Wang, a Sales Engineer at HubSpot who gave a presentation on Diversity and Inclusion at HubSpot’s INBOUND 18 conference, pointed out, "Diversity is key for people to be successful at work -- and everyone deserves the opportunity to excel. A key factor of success is knowing that you have a community that empathizes and understands your experiences so that you can bring your full authentic self to do the best work possible."
3. Diversity can help you become a global leader.
It's likely you already work with clients or vendors from other countries. As your competitors scale up globally, it's critical you're able to do the same.
By having employees who speak other languages or understand other cultures, you're more likely to succeed in the global market.
Wattpad co-founder and CEO Allen Lau believes their success as a start-up came from Wattpad's ability to enter the global market through diverse employees -- "In the early days of our business, my co-founder Ivan and I searched for a way to kick start our audience growth. It was painfully slow until we made the decision to support additional languages on our app. Luckily, we had worked with people who lived in these countries who could provide the insight we needed to strengthen our product."
You'll need a diverse team of employees, with unique cultural backgrounds, to combat foreign challenges and satisfy clients from other countries.
4. Diversity will improve your company's culture and help you attract better talent.
A survey by Glassdoor found 67% of people consider diversity an important factor when deciding where to work. To attract top talent, it's imperative you incorporate diversity into the workplace.
Along with attracting top talent, diversity will help you improve your company's culture and retain current employees long-term. Remember, the term "diversity" isn't a label for one person -- it's a label for a group of people. We are all diverse by nature. Everyone has different perspectives, backgrounds, and skills.
By encouraging diversity, you're allowing every employee to feel comfortable being authentic.
As HubSpot's D&I Program Manager Melissa Obleada notes, "Most people aren't happy and don't want to stay at a place where they aren't comfortable. People change jobs for their commute, for their family, but most importantly, for themselves to feel comfortable."
Ultimately, your employees will never be truly happy until they feel authentic at work and in their roles.
5. Diversity improves your company's customer service.
Customers like to speak to people who understand their issues and can offer solutions unique to them. By having a diverse team, you're more likely to have employees who can empathize with your customers and offer better, more tailored solutions.
According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. As the importance of customer experience continues to grow, personalization in customer service will become even more crucial.
Good customer service is about creating strong personal connections between employees and customers. A diverse team will help you form stronger, more authentic relationships with a broader range of customers, allowing you to outperform competitors long-term.
Diversity in the Workplace Statistics
In case we haven't convinced you already, here are some impressive statistics that demonstrate the powerful benefits of diversity in the workplace:
- 57% of people think their company should be doing more to increase diversity among its workforce.
- 83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60% of millennials who are actively engaged when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.
- For every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8%. In the U.K., EBIT rises to 3.5%.
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity.
- Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
- Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market.
- One study found academic papers written by diverse groups receive more citations than papers written by people from the same ethnic group, getting more credit in the field.
Diversity in the Workplace Articles
To learn more about specific benefits of diversity in the workplace, check out some of these additional resources:
- "Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter" by Harvard Business Review
- "'Diversity' Is Rightly Criticized As An Empty Buzzword. So How Can We Make It Work?" by NPR
- "Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning?" by The New York Times
- "How to Increase Workplace Diversity" by Wall Street Journal
- "Why 'Thought Diversity' Is The Future Of The Workplace" by Business Insider