Diversity and inclusion in workplace has come under the scanner like never these days. Large MNCs are scrambling to achieve diversity goals and have even created departments to ensure their employee hiring and rewarding procedures are egalitarian enough.
Yet they seem to be failing. Google’s just released annual diversity report shows attrition rates are highest for black and Hispanic employees and that women and minorities still represent a considerably smaller proportion of the overall workforce. The scenario is no better at other companies of the likes of Apple, Intel, Facebook and so on. Every survey shows that diversity and inclusivity at offices – small and large ones – has improved at a snail’s pace.
This is indeed worrying!
Diversity does not just mean racial and religious diversity. It also includes women, disabled and the LGBT. Discriminatory policies and practises not giving them a fair chance can promote toxic environment inside an office, which is the very antithesis of a conducive professional atmosphere.
And why does having a multi-racial, multi-lingual, gender-balanced and LGBT friendly workplace matter so much?
Well, here you go…
Creativity and Innovation
People having similar backgrounds are most likely to think alike. Their approach to a problem could be similar and their ideas pertaining to product development, distribution and marketing are likely to match as well. But if they come from diverse racial or regional backgrounds then they might think and act differently. Women, the differentially-abled and gay and lesbian people might have different perspectives and maybe able to look at things differently. This would eventually improve the productivity of a company. Hence promoting diversity within not just an organization but also in departments and teams is an excellent means of bettering results.
Opens global opportunities
For business entities keen on expanding their geographical footprints, a diverse group of employees can come in handy. Dealing with clients or vendors spread across nations requires you understand the ethos of the place. And who better to help you out in it than a native? They understand the culture, the language and socio-political setup better than most others. They are just the resources to be tapped into for facilitating a better cross-cultural understanding.
Foster’s adaptability and better working culture
Biggest of all, a diverse workforce makes employees more accepting. They learn to rise above one another’s cultural and gender differences and work together in a team. This reduces discrimination on a much broader scale too.
Improves companies’ bottom lines
Surveys have time and again have showed that companies with a diverse team are more competitive and profitable. Take for instance the report on 366 public organizations by McKinsey published in 2015. It revealed that entities in the top quartile with respect to a diverse workforce in management were 35 percent likelier to generate returns higher than the industry average. And companies in the top quartile vis-à-vis gender diversity were 15 percent likelier to generate returns higher than the industry average. Another study on 177 banks in the US showed that companies with innovative business strategies and a racially diverse workforce were poised to see better financial outcome.
The rules are that simple for accomplishing workplace utopia. But progress is still slow and nowhere is it more glaring than in the tech sector. That is because most large entities simply put in place a set of corporate policies encompassing a chief diversity officer, employees with diverse backgrounds and flexible working policies to avoid lawsuits that can be both costly and damaging to the company’s image. This is hardly a solution.
Thrust instead should be on bringing about a change in employees’ deep-seated mindsets and behaviours. Only then can we prevent more James Damore, the ex-Googler who penned 3000-word memo decrying the firm’s affirmative action policies and saying that women are biologically less-qualified for tech jobs, from coming up.