Why Diversity and Inclusion is Vital in the NZ Workforce
As a business owner, there are a lot of things that you can do to strengthen and future-proof your workforce. For example, people development through relevant training programmes can provide practical and adjacent skills that improve productivity and instil confidence. In turn, this help makes it easier for you to meet or even exceed your every goal.
Two more things that you should endeavour to achieve are diversity and inclusion. These aren’t just “buzzwords” that will be replaced by a new trend in the years to come. Instead, diversity and inclusion are concepts that have direct and immediately appreciable advantages to an organisation as a whole.
Diversity and Inclusion, Defined
Diversity in the workplace, simply put, is having a workforce composed of people of different genders and sexual orientations, ages, race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds, as well as educational attainment, among many others. Inclusion, on the other hand, means embracing diversity and promoting behaviours that help create an environment where your diverse workforce can thrive and feel welcome. (This means that you can have a diverse workforce but not an inclusive one.)
By these definitions, it’s easy to see why many companies in New Zealand—and indeed, around the world—aim for diversity and inclusion. If you need a little more convincing, read on below for a clearer picture of how these two important ideas can help shape the future of your workforce.
Diversity Brings Different Perspectives and Leads to Innovation
Diversity brings together people with different backgrounds.This means that their abilities and experiences are likely to be varied as well. As a result, you’ll receive different inputs and perspectives when you’re trying to solve a problem or coming up with a business strategy. In fact, you’ll probably end up with more innovative ideas compared to a non-diverse workforce.
Diversity Discourages “Groupthink”
Everyone, even the most open-minded person in the world, has their own biases. These biases can lead to presumptions that can affect business decisions. This can then lead to feelings of alienation (the very opposite inclusion), not to mention people who can slowly become reluctant to share their ideas.
Simply put, a non-diverse workforce can have the same biases that can result in the so-called groupthink effect. Thus, a non-diverse group is highly likely to share the same opinions and its decision-making process can end up being irrational and lack critical evaluation.
With a diverse workforce, you can avoid groupthink. Different minds think differently, which means you’ll have a healthy discussion of ideas and opinions. As a result, you can make well-rounded, informed choices.
Diversity Improves Company Culture
Company culture can be defined as the personality of the company. If you don’t have a diverse workforce and inclusivity, this personality can end up bland and flat. Who would like to work in a company like that, right?
Meanwhile, it has been scientifically proven that diverse workplaces have better company cultures than those that aren’t. People enjoy variety, and this bleeds over to their preference or working environments. Diversity and inclusion can also help expand someone’s perspective and change their behaviour. Ultimately, this results in a more colourful, exciting culture that can inspire and motivate people.
Diversity Helps You Better Understand Customers
The reality of every business is that you have a varied customer base. Even if you have a specific target market, you’ll still have different groups within that base. For example, if your target market is mothers, you have to learn how to talk to young mothers, single mothers, married mothers, and more.
A diverse and inclusive workplace can help in this regard, particularly if you have employees who share a client’s ethnicity and culture. In turn, a better understanding of customers can lead to better chances of conversion and loyalty.
Diversity Promotes Engagement and Reduces Attrition
Workplace diversity and inclusion has a direct effect on employee engagement. That is, when people feel included, they also feel more engaged and that it’s not a waste of time to share their ideas.
What’s more, when a diverse workforce feels that they’re truly accepted, they also feel happier. This is ultimately better for your bottom line because happy employees are not only more productive but are also more likely to stay. Loyalty is valuable to any company, particularly because it boosts productivity and at the same time reduces acquisition and training costs.
Diversity Improves Public Perception
Last but not the least, diversity and inclusion boosts any company’s image, playing a key role for job seekers when looking for companies to work for. A diverse and inclusive organisation is also attractive to investors. In short, diversity and inclusion make a company more competitive.
A positive reputation does wonders to a company’s prospects, creating more opportunities and increasing appeal. The latter is particularly important nowadays, when consumers have become even more discerning of the businesses and brands they want to support.
The main thing to remember here is that it takes more than monetary investments to build a successful business. You also have to look at some of the intangible factors—like diversity and inclusion—to truly make an impact both in the present and the future.