Ways To Approach Embracing Diversity in the Workforce
July 8, 2019
People come from all walks of life, and many of them have different social and economic backgrounds. They’re often separated into classes based on their income, which may or may not give them certain advantages and disadvantages.
The workplace is where many of these people come together, all with different stories, cultural and religious beliefs, social statuses and personalities.
Approaching diversity in the workforce is the key not only to giving your company a competitive advantage but also to improving the way in which your employees see, understand and relate to one another.
What is Diversity in the Workplace?
Diversity in the workplace is when a company hires a variety of diverse people to do the job. Simply put, the workforce includes people of various genders, religions, ethnicities, ages and more.
In a diverse company, not everyone on the team or in management follows a cookie-cutter profile. They’re not all the same color or have the same education or skill level. They’re all different in their own way, and embracing those differences is what makes diversity in the workforce succeed.
Companies and employees can benefit from diversity in the workforce if they embrace what makes each of them unique, special and important.
The Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity is what builds character in an organization. It brings people together who may not look, act or think exactly the same.
Some people question whether diversity is a fad or if it truly gives companies an advantage over their competition.
It’s true that some companies may only be concerned with their image and speak in favor of workplace diversity, but there are real benefits to having a diverse group of people working together for the good of the company.
Diversity is especially important in health care. It’s an industry that’s filled with many different people, and their job is to care for others. Diversity benefits health care organizations and facilities in many different ways, including the people who currently work or plan to work in the field.
1. Enhanced Decision-Making
A group’s social majority may not always make the best decisions. People from diverse backgrounds may change the way the majority thinks, improving how the group goes about making and implementing important changes in the company. When diverse people come together, they focus more on the facts than on making quick decisions.
According to a McKinsey & Company report, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity have 35 percent higher financial returns. The same companies that rank highly for gender diversity have 15 percent higher financial returns than the national industry median.
2. Different Perspectives
People develop a certain viewpoint based on how a topic or a situation affects them. Not everyone has the same perspective about things. For example, people from various ethnic backgrounds may view a political topic differently. Having workplace diversity means getting different perspectives on things in the workplace.
Diversity places different thoughts, ideas, opinions and perspectives under one roof, including varying degrees of skills and life experiences. These different perspectives meld as one to benefit a company when it comes to creating and implementing positive business strategies and ensuring long-term success for everyone involved.
3. Improved Hiring Ratios
Workplace diversity is important to job seekers. In fact, as many as 67 percent of current and previous job seekers say that it’s a major factor when considering a company’s job offer. If a company wants to improve its brand and to attract talented people, it needs to embrace diversity.
Without talented people, a company will get left behind in the competitive market. A diverse group thinks outside the box and brings different skills to the table, benefiting a company’s reach and growth for the future.
4. More Innovation
Innovation drives business. If you want to lead as health care innovators in a global market, it pays to have a diverse group bring fresh, new perspectives and ideas to your company. In fact, Deloitte conducted a research study and found that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80 percent.
Every voice is heard in an inclusive team, encouraging greater communication that produces more meaningful dialogue. With greater dialogue comes more innovative ideas and ways of thinking, helping to push the company forward as a leader in the field.
5. Reduction in Employee Turnover Ratios
If people feel as though they’re being heard, they’re more likely to stay at the job and to give their best effort each and every day. Employees who belong to inclusive teams understand that the company values and accepts them.
Happy employees stay with a company longer than those who feel as if they’re ignored. Companies benefit from lower employee turnover rates when they provide a diverse workplace where people feel like they belong.
6. Better Problem-Solving
It all goes back to having individual ideas and experiences. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring different experiences to the team. They’re able to come up with solutions to problems very quickly and to help companies implement changes sooner rather than later.
Problems arise every day in the workplace, so it’s vital to have a diverse group with different takes, ideas and opinions on how to solve them. When diverse groups tackle a problem, they approach it from multiple angles and experiences, coming up with the best overall solution for the company.
7. Greater Employee Engagement
Employees are more likely to engage in the workplace when they feel included in the conversation. Embracing diversity is one way to make people feel like they belong on the team. It will make them more engaged when they realize that they’re part of the whole.
When employees don’t engage in the workplace, it slows down innovation. Ideas are few and far between, and the company grows stagnant. Diversity and engagement go hand in hand. If you build your company with a diverse foundation, you’re more likely to get maximum output from everyone involved. For more information on ways to improve employee engagement in the workforce, take a look at our guide on How To Improve Employee Engagement.
8. Increased Revenues and Profits
Teams that are brimming with ideas and make better, faster decisions have an advantage over the competition. If your company attracts the top talent from all walks of life, it’s going to boost your profits. However, you’ll need a diverse team of people to help make it happen.
There’s a payoff from having diversity in your organization. Talented people will want to work with you because you make diversity a priority within the company, and companies that employ diverse teams will enjoy higher returns on equity.
9. Better Company Reputation
Want to increase your company’s brand and reputation? Diversity is the answer. Health care organizations that promote diversity in the workforce are viewed as socially responsible. They’re seen as caring about their employees’ thoughts, views and ideas.
Embracing workplace diversity opens the door to new opportunities. It makes your company appear more relatable and human, increasing the interest of new talent and markets. Running a diversity campaign will strike different people at the core and make them share your vision across social media and other channels, spreading your brand far and wide.
10. Increased Creativity
Placing your company in a bubble is one way to stifle creativity. You should expose it to different viewpoints and ideas. If you’re running out of creative juice, it could be a sign that your organization lacks a diverse voice.
When you bring together a variety of people with different ways of doing things, it stirs the pot and introduces fresh ideas to the mix. If your team has no variation in the way it thinks, the results will always be the same. Diversity is the answer to improving your company’s creativity.
11. Better Understanding of Customer Demographics
The health care industry encompasses all demographics. Therefore, it stands to reason to have a diverse group in your company. Employees from different backgrounds not only bring fresh ideas to the workforce but also a better understanding of how to target customers in their demographics.
Different demographics have varying characteristics, experiences and beliefs. How do you truly understand how to target new customers in these demographics without having their voices within your company? Diversity is more than just hiring different genders and ethnicities to fulfill a quota. It’s about understanding their views, making their voices heard and helping each other reach new heights in business and the community.
How to Approach Diversity in the Workplace
Though diversity brings many benefits to the workplace, it’s not the easiest thing to implement.
Maybe the company-wide attitude isn’t where it should be.
A lot of companies see diversity as the right thing to do but aren’t 100 percent committed to it. You can’t look at diversity as just another project and expect things to go smoothly and to work great in the end.
It takes a commitment throughout the company, not just at the top. It’s a trickle effect, starting at the very top and moving down through HR and the rest of the organization.
So how do you approach diversity in the workplace and make it a successful and long-lasting strategy?
1. Company-Wide Diversity Group or Team
Transforming a company into something more diverse takes a lot of work and doesn’t always happen overnight. Organizing a diversity group to create and implement the strategy is important for making it successful in the long term.
The diversity group will also be in charge of encouraging diverse teams within the company, bringing employees from different backgrounds together to work on collaborative projects. The group will maintain the diversity strategy and come up with new ways to make it better over time.
2. Diversity Leaders in the Executive Team
One of the benefits of diversity in the workplace is the creation of new and exciting ideas. Having diversity leaders in the executive team shakes things up, bringing fresh ideas and introducing new ways to do things. Diversity in the boardroom is very much absent in many health care facilities and other organizations. When you lack the visible diversity at the top, such as different races and genders, you miss out on different perspectives and personalities.
These new thoughts and perspectives can help shape your company for the better. It’s not always simple to introduce diversity in the boardroom, but it’s vital for creating a culture of acceptance within the entire organization and helping it grow and thrive.
3. Diversity-Based Decision Making
Did you know that diverse teams make better business decisions 60 percent of the time? Inclusive teams provide even better results. The numbers don’t lie, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of including diversity and inclusion in your organization?
In-the-box thinking doesn’t always produce the best results. Involve diverse and inclusive teams in business decisions to get the most production and results out of your company.
4. Create Equal Opportunity for Employees
Employees don’t want to feel as though they’re stuck in one place with no room for advancement. Likewise, no job seeker wants to feel left out of the interview process. Everyone wants a chance, so it’s time to create an equal opportunity environment for employees.
One way to do this is to offer training and development for everyone. It will make them feel valued and like they’re given a chance to improve their skills for future growth. You can also improve how you target applicants by including “Equal Employment Opportunity” on job postings. Doing these simple things and more will create diversity in your organization.
5. Create a Culture of Acceptance
Creating a culture of acceptance is one way to get people behind your brand. To lead with optimism is to create employee retention. When people feel accepted for who they are, what they believe in or how they do things, they’re more open to ideas and willing to put in extra effort.
Some ways to create a culture of acceptance include encouraging mistakes and allowing differing ideas. Allowing employees to work interdependently on collaborative projects can also help to create a more engaging and accepting environment, which is one of the major benefits of diversity in the workplace.
6. Prioritize Better Communication
When voices go unheard, ideas get left behind. A diverse group will never thrive in the workplace if there’s no communication or open dialogue. If you want to improve communication within the company, take the time to listen and to let people know that they have your attention.
Be mindful when you’re communicating, such as being aware of your body language and the way in which you express your opinions. Improving communication in the workplace comes down to listening, avoiding assumptions and becoming an audience for your employees.
7. Encourage Employees to Work in Diverse Groups
The diversity strategy in the company will fail if the employees don’t engage and work together. People are social by nature and often choose to socialize and to work with other people of like mind and interests. This often leads to cliques and the exclusion of other people within an organization.
It’s important to encourage diversity when employees work in groups. Having people from different backgrounds working together sparks new ideas and gets things done. The results will begin to show how effective it can be as part of your company’s strategy when employees work more diversely.
8. Provide Sensitivity Training
Sensitivity training may be a necessary component to make your diversity strategy succeed in the workplace. This training is needed to make people aware of certain behaviors and attitudes that cause offense to other people, particularly minorities or people of different religions and genders.
Consider setting up sensitivity training sessions not only for the employees but also for upper management. Remember this: Setting a good example starts at the top.
9. Create a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Inappropriate Jokes or Behavior
Some companies put in zero-tolerance policies to deal with unwanted behaviors such as violence and drug use. However, these policies should go one more step and be for any form of unwanted behavior in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, racial discrimination and inappropriate jokes.
A zero-tolerance policy lets employees know that there are ramifications for their actions. It nips problems in the bud at the very beginning stages, preventing further inappropriate behavior by the person in the workplace. The policy also sends a firm signal to other employees and helps to prevent recurring behaviors.
Diversity and Health Care
Creative ideas, faster decision making and increased profits are just some of the benefits of diversity in the workplace. Diversity shouldn’t be treated as a simple strategy for improving a company’s profit margin. It should be looked at as a way to improve the company’s overall brand, presence and reach.
Diversity enhances an organization in a variety of ways and improves the lives of people from all backgrounds. It gives everyone a voice and creates a culture of acceptance. Diversity is what should set the health care industry apart from other fields and attract people of various genders, ethnicities, religions and ages to come together for the benefit of everyone.