Diversity is Different Than You May Think
It’s that buzzword… but what does it mean?
What’s one of the most commonly overlooked elements of running a business with employees? Possibly one of the most It’s quite possible that one of the most common is diversity. Underestimated and misunderstood as to its power, for the team and the overall success of the business. Actually one of your biggest priorities should be creating and maintaining a diverse workplace.
Let’s try a quick quiz:
Which of these categories does not represent a basis for diversity?
- Native Language
What diversity is…
Actually everything in the list could be considered a category of diversity. So what exactly is it, then? Is it age race color? Or is it just about the differences between people — as in differences of opinion, ideas, experience, culture or thoughts? Simply put, diversity can be anything that distinguishes one individual from another.
Diversity is about the full package when making key business decisions. Making sure to include different opinions and ideas, Coming up with new ideas and developing them into solutions. It’s about using those processes to solve challenges for customers. In the biggest sense it is about fostering an environment for new ideas, about variety of thought and creating a work culture that allows innovation through placing value in those differences.
What diversity isn’t…
Diversity isn’t about special treatment for certain categories or groups of people. It’s about using a full complement of resources to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved. Diversity is not based on tolerance or sensitivity to issues or other circumstances. It is not about compliance. That makes it seem like something challenging or troublesome. Compliance consists of reacting or responding to regulations or other requirements, because it is proactive and meant to create or promote transformation. Diversity isn’t about making things better for specific segments and is not about charity.
Why should we care about it?
Research shows for example, that the commercial real estate industry has a large lack of diversity. In the Fortune 500 companies, only 79 of them (15.8%) have at least 40% diversity on their boards. In commercial real estate the rate is 3.4% at 6 out of 175 companies.
Evidence shows that the benefits like increases in retention and productivity can come from having a diverse workforce. It also helps in outward facing areas like responsiveness to customers as they themselves become increasingly diverse. Relationships with the community and the organization’s own ability to deal with change are also impacted. And if that weren’t enough, the overall creativity in the company tends to see a marked increase in a diversity focused environment.
Where do we start?
So, now that you’re hopefully on board, where can and should you start?
- Gain a thorough understanding of diversity and by building an awareness of it as an area of opportunity.
- Begin thinking about diversity in recruitment, development of talent, in mentorship, communications, external partnerships … everywhere.
But success starts with a single step. Let’s get started.
There has to be a first step somewhere. Starting with understanding and awareness of diversity can be as good a place as any. Success will be realized when it’s no longer necessary to ask if you are diverse enough. This will because it has become something of a norm rather than something remarkable or novel. As far as a workplace is concerned, fostering diversity includes creating a working environment which respects and includes difference. It also recognizes unique contributions that individuals with many different backgrounds can make and six to maximize the potential of all team members.
One example of a suitable goal in the area of diversity is to accurately mirror the population of customers or clients served by your own organization on every level.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So, success begins with the first action step. The ball is in your court!
Finally, have a look at how we are helping increase diversity with a look at our Job Search Engine.