Why Should Staff Value Diversity?
If you work for a large organization as a Diversity Officer, it’s likely that your company already has diversity policies, initiatives, or metrics. But how to explain to staff why the organization is promoting diversity and inclusion? Diversity officers particularly have a challenge explaining the whys and what-fors of diversity to the status quo in the organization. “Conventional” incumbents might fear they have the most to lose as diverse professionals join their departments and teams.
Diversity professionals, though, “get it”. They understand why the enterprise is opening its doors and cubicle spaces to them. “Mainstream” employees, however, may need the organization’s help in understanding its new orientation toward the nature of work.
Framing the Discussion
Workplace diversity is a hot topic and many companies are trying to be more inclusive and establish an even playing field for every employee. A diverse workforce is one where you are surrounded by colleagues who are different in age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and social class.
While creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is certainly the right thing to do from a moral and ethical perspective, it also makes good business sense. Companies that embrace differences are rewarded with greater employee engagement, increased productivity, and superior customer service. Although workforce diversity offers many benefits to employers, it also creates a better working environment for employees. Some of the tangible and intangible benefits that employees receive from being a part of a diverse workplace include:
Respect for Differences
Workplace diversity creates groups and teams of people who are from different backgrounds. They bring new ideas, unique perspectives, and dissimilar work styles. Diverse teams are more effective than homogenous teams because they foster creativity, debate, and innovation. Employees working in diverse teams learn to be more accepting and respectful of different strengths, talents, and opinions.
Conflict is likely to occur, regardless of the team or work environment. However, employees who understand and respect differences of opinion are more likely to find common ground. Diverse teams are much more likely to deal with conflict constructively and be aligned in working towards common goals. This behaviour facilitates the development of long-term, positive, working relationships.
Workplace diversity is a critical contributor to an organization’s reputation. Businesses become more respected by employees, customers, and other stakeholders when they demonstrate a commitment to diversity through recruitment efforts and community engagement. When an organization has strong ethics, fair employment practices, and an appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness, it creates an environment that employees can feel proud to be a part of.
A large company with a diverse workforce is more likely to have a variety of office locations in different regions or countries. This gives employees the opportunity to take their careers to different places and it opens doors to new experiences and cultures. Employees with language skills and an interest in expatriate assignments will find that a diverse company can offer unique career opportunities.
A diverse workplace offers employees the opportunity to work with colleagues who have different work styles, ideas, and opinions. This is especially evident in multigenerational work environments. In a diverse workplace, employees have the opportunity to connect with people they might not normally interact with. This gives them the opportunity to learn new skills, abilities, and perspectives that impact them both professionally and personally.
It is the responsibility of the Diversity Officer to explain organization-wide that when a company embraces diversity and inclusiveness, there are not only tangible gains for the business but also great benefits for the employees. Employees that are a part of a diverse workforce have stronger working relationships, opportunities for learning and growth, and an appreciation for the spectrum of experience life offers.