The Power of Workplace Diversity

Published: Jan 23, 2014

 Workplace Issues       

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

When Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote these words he lived in a society that struggled to embrace and encourage differences. Indeed, Dr. King had a vision of inclusion that’s taken several decades to become a part of America, including the American workplace. But as his vision has become more prevalent in the workplace, it’s raised the bar on industry standards.

Today, it’s been well documented that companies that encourage employee diversity (and the keep moving forward mentality) increase their ability to innovate, capture a larger market share, and reduce staff turnover. What was once considered a social responsibility is now emerging as a core business strategy—due to low cost and ease of implementation, coupled with the success of the outcome.

In short, diversity and inclusion affects the bottom line by:

Creating Better Problem Solving Abilities

“Diversity and inclusiveness aren’t just nice-to-haves, they’re business imperatives,” says Steve Shea, Managing Partner, People at Ernst & Young. “The more diverse thoughts you can bring into a team, the greater the ideas.”

In other words, if you’re looking for a competitive edge, nothing can be a greater ally than looking at problems from different angles. And with diversity in the workplace, you can look to solve problems from several angles at once. The “flyers”  look at it from the view above, the “walkers” at a level view, and the “crawlers”  from the view below. This creates an ability to bring about resolutions that are fresh, new, and innovative.

Increasing Understanding of Clients

With a diverse workforce, companies are able to reach a wider audience, as they understand a larger group of people and can identify their unique needs. This understanding helps create brand loyalty and increased rapport, which is vital in today’s global marketplace.

Increasing Employee Loyalty

Sonia Kang, an assistant professor at the Rotman School of Management, says diverse organizations tend to have better employee relations. “You typically find less absenteeism, less turnover, higher productivity, and people being more committed,” she says. “There’s a higher sense of belonging, which tends to make them better workers. They also tend to be more innovative, less prone to groupthink, and are better at attracting and retaining talent.”

Indeed, in a workplace where everyone feels valued, employees tend to aim to reach their full potential. Diversity and inclusion encourages a workforce to be more creative and communicate more effectively. Which translates into a more productive—and more profitable—workforce.

Emma Street is an HR manager for a Fortune 500 company with over a decade of HR, management, and recruiting experience. In her spare time, she is a freelance writer for Free Resume Builder.