Once seen as a bit of a ‘tick the box’ exercise, companies are now recognising the real and tangible benefits of ensuring diversity in their workforce - acknowledging that a diverse team can differentiate them from their competitors by attracting top talent and capturing new clients.
A workforce diverse in culture, age, sexual orientation, gender, race, ability, and life experience brings unique insights, ideas, and perspectives.
Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that diverse teams are better at harnessing creativity and developing solutions to complex or difficult challenges.
So how exactly does a diverse team offer higher productivity and performance?
Like-minded people tend to generate like-minded thoughts. Team members can fall into a pattern of ‘group thinking’ – where they change their viewpoints to align with the views of others. This can prevent teams from forming new and productive ideas.
Diversity fosters creativity. When a team is more diverse, there will be a range of different perspectives and experiences that can lead to inspiration and innovation. Additionally, the simple fact that a team is diverse can help employees feel more comfortable in sharing their thoughts, which leads to the next point.
A diverse and inclusive workplace attracts top talent, and has a direct effect on staff turnover. These workplaces tend to give a voice to all employees, who feel valued for their individuality and unique contribution. When individuals feel valued, it not only leads to better communication and collaboration, it also results in talent being retained.
In our industry, we need to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders. A diverse and inclusive workforce can help us ensure that our engagement is respectful of our stakeholder’s cultural differences. The more diverse a team is, the more likely they can show empathy towards a diverse range of customer requests and complaints.
These factors ultimately lead to increased performance.
Diversity shouldn’t simply be a box-ticking exercise. There’s a lot more to be gained than simply the ability to say 'we’re diverse'. Having a team diverse across multiple areas is essential to drive innovation, encourage creativity, guide business strategies and prevent 'group-think'.