Diversity in the workplace can be a critical driver of attracting top talent. Its growing importance to organizations and employees worldwide makes diversity an important element of an organization’s talent acquisition strategies. The benefits of a diverse workplace are numerous. Let’s explore further.
Diversity in the workplace can be defined as employing people from all backgrounds with a wide range of internal and external characteristics. Internal characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, age, cultural identity, or national origin, do not change. External characteristics can change over time, for example, education levels, appearance, experience, and skills. And so much more.
For a broader definition of diversity, including the four types of diversity and examples, please refer to our article, What is Diversity?
Most organizations with diverse workforces have intentionally hired people with different traits and characteristics. They have HR and recruiting policies in place to help create an inclusive and accepting work environment that respects individuals and their differences. They know that a diverse workforce is a key to attracting top talent and positively impacts their organization’s bottom line.
Today, diversity is not about numbers. It’s about how employees are treated daily by leadership, management, and peers. That’s where inclusion comes in. A diverse and inclusive workplace values all employees no matter their differences. It even goes beyond that to appreciate employees for those very differences. Leadership in inclusive cultures understands that a diverse workforce is better for business. It’s more creative and innovative and can find and identify customer solutions faster than the competition.
[Handpicked related content: Diversity vs. Inclusion: Why it Takes Both to Succeed]
What kind of work environment do the best employees want? The same kind you want. A place where they feel accepted and valued for their unique qualities and contributions. It’s the type of environment that is safe for employees to have a voice, speak up and offer new ideas. One where they’re included in decision-making processes and feel they’re making an impact. It is a place where they can be their best, do their best work, and feel appreciated for it.
What kind of environment is this? It’s a workplace full of diverse, happy, respected employees where inclusion is a top priority. According to the Institute for Public Relations, 47% percent of millennials actively look for diversity and inclusion when considering potential employers compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 37% of Boomers.
Most people want their work environment to reflect real life. This means a workplace that includes people from different educational and socio-economic backgrounds, religions, races, and ethnicities. It means a workplace that values everyone. Your best employees want co-workers with different skills, experiences, ideas, and opinions because they want to learn from them. That is unlikely to happen if everyone has the same background and experience. How boring would your office be if everyone was the same? How many new ideas would be created there?
Employees are hard to find in today’s tight labor market. One way to combat the problem of too few candidates is to widen your search pool. This helps your organization in two ways. First, a broader search pool means you have more candidates from which to choose. Secondly, hiring from a diverse pool of candidates will naturally help your organization become more diverse.
For years, most recruiters have been using the same processes to find job candidates. They network with the same groups, look for candidates with certain skills, degrees from specific universities, or specific work experience. Widening the talent pool will help you find not only more candidates but candidates with a broader range of skills, experiences, and ideas – important for driving business success.
When it comes to widening the talent pool – think even more outside the box to include disabled and neurodiverse individuals. These are huge, untapped talent pools. Let’s look at neurodiverse individuals who are often overlooked as potential employees. Neurodiversity commonly refers to individuals with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and social anxiety disorders. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, 20% of the adult population is neurodiverse, and around 80% are unemployed. That is a lot of available talent.
Learn more about the value of neurodiversity in the workplace in these two articles:
Savvy job candidates understand that diverse teams are stronger, solve problems faster, and perform better in general. Diverse teams can think outside the box and relate to a broader customer base. This gives their companies a definite competitive advantage, especially in the global marketplace. and those identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors (McKinsey.) A successful, diverse workplace is going to attract the best candidates.
Creativity and problem-solving are boosted when your workforce consists of employees from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to better products and solutions, and business success. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders (Josh Bersin research), and diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets (Harvard Business Review.) That’s a win-win for everybody at the organization. Who wouldn’t want to be on a winning team leading innovation in their marketplace?
Diversity in the workplace is necessary to compete for the best talent. Today’s job seekers expect to work in an environment that accepts all people. They want to know that not only will they be treated fairly, but that all the organization’s employees are treated fairly. To be competitive in the war for talent today, organizations need to embrace diversity and inclusion fully throughout their culture and all aspects of their business.
When you create your diversity strategy, be sure to include strategies to improve inclusion throughout your organization. Prospective employees are not only watching who you hire but how you treat them once they are employees.
Diverse workplaces are more innovative and have better business outcomes than their less diverse counterparts. Inclusive, innovative, successful businesses will always attract top job candidates. And they’ll only get better in an endless cycle of attracting talent, innovating new products, and seeing better business outcomes.
Are you focusing on diversity hiring efforts? Be sure to watch this short video on Cadient's Diversity Hiring Dashboard. The dashboard allows you to easily see and report your diversity hiring efforts.
Don't miss these other diversity related articles: DEI Resources.